Monthly Archives: November 2015

Messages of Thanks on this Thanksgiving Holiday



Thanksgiving is a special time to be thankful for great families, fortunate events, caring friends, amazing communities, and all the gifts of life we’re all lucky to have. At ACEI, we’re especially thankful for all the wonderful friends, coworkers, customers, clients, and readers like you.

We have invited members of the ACEI team to share with you their personal messages of thanks.

Brian Aguilar (Administrative Assistant): This year (like every year) has been an emotional roller-coaster. I’m thankful for all the changes, which at first seem scary, but always have great outcomes. I’m thankful for all the adventures, the rough patches, the ups and downs — that have contributed to my personal development. I’m thankful for all the new people that have come in to my life, and for those that continue to be a part of it. I’m thankful for all the words of wisdom, the support, and the love I receive from everyone around me each and every day.

Mary Baxton (Senior Credential Evaluator): Now retired (from CSUN), I reflect on my career in higher/ international education and cutting my teeth on credential evaluations.  It is a passion eagerly continued thanks to working with the ACEI team.

Scott Brown (Client Relations Officer): This has been good year and I’m thankful for good health, my friends and family and for being a part of ACEI. It is a joy corresponding with our international applicants and I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving!

Sanjin Gacina (Senior Credential Evaluator): I am thankful to be part of the ACEI family and to be surrounded by a special group of exceptional people. I am also thankful for the good fortune of a peaceful and free existence.

Clayton Johans-Winston (Client Relations Officer): I am so thankful and grateful to have been working for this incredible company, ACEI.

Katherine Kang (Senior Credential Evaluator): I am thankful for having my family with me. My son’s birthday is near Thanksgiving and due to his father’s career, he wasn’t able to celebrate with us every year. This year, all three of us were together!

Nora S. Khachetourians (Director: Evaluation & Translation Departments): There are so many things to be thankful about: a wonderful family, loving grandchildren, good health and keeping busy with work and people I love at ACEI.

Alex Martinez (Client Relations Officer): I am grateful for spending another year with my family, good health and wish for world peace and love.

Yolinisse Moreno (Director of Communications): This year and every year I am very thankful for my wonderful family, friends and colleagues. I feel very blessed to be surrounded by these people and have a roof over my head. Let’s all remember to always be kind to one another. Our kindness can change the world. Happy Thanksgiving!

John Riley (Social Media Marketing): I’m thankful for my beautiful wife, my health and the wonderful friends and family in my life.

Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert (President & CEO): Though the new year started with the loss of a loved one, my father, it goes without saying that I’m thankful for all life’s goodness, my wonderful husband, my family and friends near and far, and my amazing “work family” here at ACEI. I feel very lucky to be in the company of dedicated and talented individuals who each bring with them their unique skills and life experiences.

Alan Saidi (Senior Vice President & COO): I am thankful for all the loved ones in my life, my two beautiful daughters and loving wife and for the beauty which is all around me. My sincere gratitude also goes to my mother and sister and everyone at ACEI.

William Thompson (Administrative Assistant): I’m thankful for this year and for working with ACEI which I view as my second family. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!

We wish you the happiest of Thanksgivings and hope you enjoy this great holiday season!

Now, it’s your turn, what are you thankful for?

(A shout out to Jennifer Hutnich, one of our senior credential evaluators and Sal Sarhangi, our IT Manager, who were away at the time of this blog’s posting and unable to contribute. We send a big thanks to both Jennifer and Sal!)

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit

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20 Facts on How the U.S. Resettles Syrian Refugees

November 19th, 2015

Syrian refugees in Belgrade, Serbia, are waiting for an opportunity to travel north to cross the border with Hungary, entering the EU [Source: AP]

The on-going conflict in Syria and the recent refugee crisis has given rise to anti-refugee sentiments in the U.S. with more than half of the nation’s governors calling for a ban on admitting refugees into the country.  Entry to the U.S. as a refugee is an arduous process and requires months and even years of screening before a decision regarding admissibility to the country is granted.

In her November 17, 2015 piece for the Washington Post, Carol Morello,  the diplomatic correspondent for The Washington Post, covering the State Department highlighted 3 important facts about how the U.S. resettles Syrian refugees.  In this blog, we have broken down these facts even further for your perusal:

  1. # of people who died since the violence broke out in Syria in 2011? More than 250,000
  2. # of people who have fled their homes? At least 11 million people in the country of 22 million have fled their homes. Syrians are now the world’s largest refugee population, according to the United Nations. Most are struggling to find safe haven in Europe.
  3. # of Syrian refugees accepted for resettlement in the U.S. since the conflict began in 2011: 2,200
  4. Rate of Syrian refugees arriving in U.S. per week: 45
  5. # of refugees to be accepted by the U.S.: 10,000
  6. # of Vietnamese refugees accepted each year during the height of the Vietnam War: 200,000
  7. # of months required to vet and screen a Syrian refugee before being admitted to the U.S.: 18 – 24 months
  8. % of refugees who are single males of combat age: 2%
  9. What is one factor for considering a refugee’s admissibility to U.S.? Whether they already have family in the U.S.
  10. How does the U.S. prioritize refugees? The vulnerable: women and children, the elderly, those who’ve been tortured, those who require modern medical treatment.
  11. Children represent half the refugees accepted to the U.S.
  12. Adults over 60 represent a quarter of the refugees accepted.
  13. How does the U.S. government screen and conduct background checks of refugees? Names, birthdates and fingerprints are run through databases, information is double checked against classified and unclassified records for consistency, face-to-face interviews with applicants are held at regional centers in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, and Egypt. If need be, refugee specialists with U.S. departments of State, Homeland Security and the National Terrorism Center, will travel to refugee camps to conduct the interviews.
  14. Who makes the final decision of whether a refugee’s case is approved or rejected? The U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  15. Do governors determine where a refugee settles once admitted to the U.S.? No.
  16. Who determines where a refugee settles once admitted to the U.S.? Faith-based and non-profit groups.
  17. How do faith-based and nonprofit groups help the refugees? Through federal funds allocated to these groups, they are able to welcome the arrive refugees and assist them with their relocation by finding them housing, enrolling them in English classes, and job search.
  18. What other services and benefits do refugees receive once admitted to the U.S.? They are eligible for Medicaid and become permanent residents which permits them to work.
  19. How long does it take for refugees admitted to the U.S. to be eligible for a green card? One year.
  20. How long does it take for refugees admitted to the U.S. to apply for U.S. citizens? Five years.

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit

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Six Great Music Educators

November 12th, 2015

A good music teacher can infuse inspiration and instill a lifelong love of music. I couldn’t relate at all to my super straight, rigid piano teacher when I was seven or eight, plus there was simply no great music to be had in the Schnabel household, save for the 45 rpm 7″ R&B sides my older brother brought home. So I stopped taking lessons. I resumed piano lessons in the late 1960s but lost inspiration.

I bought a cheap flute in a pawn shop near USC where I was in school and had several teachers, but none worked out. One was classical only so I couldn’t relate. Another teacher later on just wanted to get high and blow. The next one left town. Four years ago, however, I found a great teacher, a multi-reed player who has taught me a lot and I’ve studied with him ever since.

So, here is my humble tribute to honor six great teachers who not only taught well but inspired many great musicians onto greatness:

Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979):

Based in Paris and living a long and productive life, she taught such a wide range of young musicians: classic titans such as Igor Stravinsky, Aaron Copland, Walter Piston, but also young turks like Philip Glass, Leonard Bernstein, and Astor Piazzolla, who studied with her and once told me “she taught me how to be Astor Piazzolla”. She also was a fine conductor, leading the Boston Symphony and New York Philharmonic Orchestras. She taught the basics to musicians and composers who were puzzled at first because they thought this was beneath their talents. Philip Glass told me that Boulanger told him to “play a C scale for the next week, and perfectly”. Her students came to realize that she knew what she was talking about.

Walter Dyett (1901-1969):

Many prominent jazz musicians I’ve interviewed credit this Chicago Public Schools music educator as starting their careers as musicians. His name was Walter Dyett, and they called him Captain Walter Dyett. He taught at DuSable High School, where he was known for being a strict disciplinarian but, more importantly, he encouraged his students to open their ears and minds to all kinds of music. Like other great teachers, he was a great motivator. He also helped students find private instructors at low cost. Among his students were Gene Ammons, Johnny Hartman, Milt Hinton, Richard Davis, Bo Diddley, Wilbur Ware, Pat Patrick, and Oscar Brashear. Quite a stable of greats, indeed.

Gerald Wilson (1918-2014):

Gerald Wilson was a jazz trumpeter and band leader, arranger, composer, host and teacher. He took over arranging duties for the Jimmy Lunceford Orchestra, replacing Sy Oliver when just out of his teens in 1939. He also arranged for Nancy Wilson, Duke Ellington, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, and many other top jazz stars.

He was host of an informative jazz radio show on KBCA in the early 1970s at 12 noon every weekday, and I listened and learned from him. He became the most popular teacher at Cal State Northridge, later duplicating this feat at UCLA. He taught thousands of students about jazz music and history, and mentored countless young musicians during his long career. He had a mind and memory like a steel trap, and could remember the set list of a Dunbar Hotel show on Central Avenue in the 1940s. He taught and inspired so many musicians who rose through his ranks and played in his orchestras: Buddy Collette, Eric Dolphy, Oscar Brashear, and many others. I would always attend his Pilgrimage Theater (now John Anson Ford Theater ) show back in the day. He lived a long and productive life teaching, arranging and conducting for Lou Rawls, Nancy Wilson, Lorez Alexandria, and others. He was truly one of my heroes. I helped arrange Mayor Garcetti’s tribute to him and presented a plaque and commendation to him at the Angel City Jazz Festival in September, 2014. He died just two days later at the ripe old age of 96.

Samuel Browne (1906-1991):

This great teacher and mentor taught many great jazz musicians during his long tenure at Jefferson High School in Los Angeles from 1936-1961, and a who’s who of great jazz musicians have sung his praises: Dexter Gordon, Don Cherry, Eric Dolphy, Wardell Gray, Hampton Hawes, Frank Morgan, Chico Hamilton, Buddy Collette, Charles Mingus and Horace Tapscott are just a few who got there chops and careers together at Jefferson High during his long tenure. Browne would scout around LA during Central Avenue’s heyday during the 1940s and early 1950′s recruiting talent from other local schools for his crack jazz orchestra. Everybody gave him the honorific title “Count” Browne à la Count Basie. Browne was one of only three black high school teachers in the LAUSD when he was hired at Jefferson in 1936, after earning a master’s degree in music from USC.

Joe Allard (1910-1991):

Joe Allard is probably the least-known of this sextet of music educators, but ask any professional saxophonist and you’ll hear plenty about him. Based in New York City, where he taught at the Juilliard School and the Manhattan School of Music, he also taught at Boston’s New England Conservatory. He played sax and clarinet for the NBC Symphony Orchestra as well as doing radio and TV shows. HIs importance came not only in teaching technique but also in the range of styles he taught. Among his students were Michael Brecker, Eddie Daniels, Dave Liebman, Bob Berg, Eric Dolphy, and Dave Tofani. Again, a who’s who of great reed players were inspired by him.

Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990):

Perhaps the greatest polymath of all, Bernstein did so many things well, and was obviously at home in both musicals (Westside Story, Candide, etc), the New York, Philharmonic, and jazz. He was a prolific writer and speaker (The Unanswered Question / The Harvard Lectures), and a champion of the new music of Charles Ives as well as Mahler’s great symphonies. His series Young People’s Concerts / Jazz in the Concert Hall brought jazz, classical, and music education to thousands of people young and old. Here is an excerpt where he is teaching the difference between classical music and jazz.

Tom Schnabel, M.A.


Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
Blogs for Rhythm Planet
Author & Music educator, UCLA, SCIARC, currently doing music salons

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Filed under Creativity, Education, Human Interest, Music

5 Highlights of Events in Education from ACEI and Around the Globe

November 5th, 2015


Since our last blog a week ago, a great deal has happened in the world of education, both on the national and international level. We’d like to share a few of the events that have occurred this week that we will continue to report on through our blog Academic Exchange and our monthly newsletter, The Report. Here are a few highlights of what just occurred:

The Colorado Board of Education Ousted

If you recall, last year students and their parents in Colorado protested the decision by the members of the Colorado Board of Education that was set to revise the Advanced Placement U.S. History curriculum so that it reflects “the positive aspects of the United States.” The protests drew national attention and this week we learned that Coloradans in a recall election ousted the members of the Colorado Board of Education. For more on this story click here:

Diploma Mills and Fake Degrees: A Global Problem and Threat

Last week at the NAFSA Region XII Conference in Honolulu, HI, ACEI’s President and Founder, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert, presented an engaging and informative talk on Diploma Mills; a billion dollar criminal industry with hubs not only in the United States but around the world. She shared examples of bogus diploma mill providers and those who had intentionally purchased such degrees to secure high level positions at the state and federal level in the U.S. and officials in government positions in other parts of the world. She demonstrated that the problem is not unique to the U.S. but is a global underground network which continues to survive because of lack of enforcement and lax laws. Jasmin will be offering a webinar on this topic on December 5, 2015. For more information, please sign up here:

Brazil Faces Challenges with its National Entrance Examination
There are about 8 million students this year preparing to participate in the ENEM (Exame Nacional do Ensino Medio), Brazil’s National High School Examination which is organization by the Ministry of Education. These 8 million students are competing for approximately 250 thousand places in the federal higher education system. Though, the ENEM was originally set up to assess the quality of secondary-level education in Brazil, it has now evolved into an admissions test to the main federal universities and other public institutions. The limited number of places available as compared to the number of students competing for them is predicted to be the cause serious challenges for the country. For more on this story click here:

Defending Affirmative Actions

Colleges are arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court in defense of Affirmative Action. November 2, 2015 was the last day to submit briefs to the Supreme Court on a key affirmative action case. The following groups have filed briefs in support of protecting Affirmative Action: American Council on Education, accreditation boards, faculty groups, the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, the College Board, the Law School Admission Council, and the National Association for College Admission Counseling. For more on this story click here:

The Virtual Classroom and Future of Higher Education

As part of an on-going series of webinars, ACEI recently provided a one-hour webinar on on-line education. The ever changing landscape of education requires a closer look at the present state of our education system so we can explore new strategies to increase student engagement and lower student attrition. Our guest presenter, Melanie Bryant, an accomplished educator with a passion for technology, shared her own personal experiences as a young student in the public school system and then as a teacher in public schools, and now as an on-line instructor and Director of the Professional Business Program at Laurus College. In the webinar, Melanie touched on several topics such as the traditional classrooms, expanding e-learning for education, training, informing, coaching, training learners to learn, teaching strategies that work and engaging learners in meaningful work. To stay abreast of our upcoming webinars, please sign up here:

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit

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