Felix Rippy praises FIU Linguist – Wins Bridging World Gap Challenge

 Bridging the World Gap Challenge pic

Bridging the World Gap Challenge
Image: wordgapchallenge.hrsa.gov

An Indiana-based JD/MBA with more than 25 years of experience, Felix Rippy holds a bachelor’s in history from Harvard University and a juris doctor from the University of Texas. Felix Rippy is enrolled in a PhD program in International Public Management at Florida International University, which recently announced one of its professors won the national Bridging the World Gap Challenge.

A linguist at Florida International University, Melissa Baralt competed with over 100 professionals in the Bridging the World Gap Challenge. Sponsored by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), the competition encouraged contestants to devise innovative ways to address the drastic difference in vocabulary between children from high-income families and children from low-income families. Melissa Baralt’s solution is an application called Hablame Bebe, which helps Spanish-speaking parents expose their children to a wider vocabulary in Spanish and promote bilingualism of babies in Hispanic families. Felix Rippy was particularly impressed with this application due to his former residence in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

The idea for the app was born from Baralt’s research at day care centers in the Miami area, where she observed that native Spanish speakers often spoke English to their children. This practice was stifling the development of children’s vocabulary, given that these parents typically have a more limited vocabulary in English. Felix Rippy also noted that the children’s problem was compounded as they were then less likely to benefit from bi-lingualism.

With Hablame Bebe, parents can provide language nutrition to their children through 20 daily routines. By using the app to speak to their children in Spanish, parents can expose their children to more words and create neural networks that will serve them for the rest of their lives. Felix Rippy congratulates his colleague on her victory and on her research!


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