Student leaders from the George Washington University joined more than 700 of their counterparts from 92 nations and 42 U.S. states to gain expertise and inspiration with the goal of improving lives during the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) 2023 annual meeting at Vanderbilt University.
The CGI U annual meeting earlier in March was led by former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton.
Throughout the weekend, the eight GW students in attendance got the opportunity to share ideas, network and explore fundraising opportunities with other aspiring leaders and global experts who came together to develop innovative solutions for global change.
“They were part of a community of students eager to find actionable efforts to aid in pressing challenges facing campuses, communities and the world,” said Amy Cohen, executive director of the Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service.
Six social innovation projects led by 13 students from GWupstart and Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service were selected for funding and mentorship for the 2023 annual cohort for CGI U. The selected projects and students are:
- CoorDONATE: Alise Ndacayisaba, a senior in the Elliott School of International Affairs; Samyudha Rajesh, a junior in the Elliott School; Daniel Sandoval, a junior in GW Business
- Sustainable Learning Center in Yumbe, Uganda: Jack Hatcher, a junior in the School of Engineering and Applied Science; Joe Gursky, a senior in GW Business; Isabella Elmore, a junior in GW Engineering
- The Onero Institute: Nicholas Lochrie, a senior in the Elliott School
- SeeSALT Inclusive Consulting: Zhijun He (Walden), a sophomore in the Elliott School
- WeFind, Equalizing Access to Public Services: Maiah Zaky, a junior in GW Business
- Amahoro Foundation: Speline Irakoze, a senior in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences; Iradukunde Claudine, a senior in the Milken Institute School of Public Health; Martha Duarte, a senior in Milken Institute SPH; Valeria Gomez, a senior in Milken Institute SPH
A highlight of the first session was Hillary Clinton’s interview with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, who shared with the audience how he came to the decision while serving as mayor and being deployed as a Navy reservist to Afghanistan to become open about his sexual orientation.
Bill Clinton moderated the closing plenary session, “When Early Inspiration Turns into Lifelong Commitment and Action.” In closing, Bill Clinton noted that nearly 700 Commitments to Action were made by this year’s CGI U participants, and he encouraged them to reach out if they need assistance. “I really do believe that diverse groups of people make better decisions than lone geniuses, or just homogenous groups that think they know it all to start with,” the former president said. “None of us should ever be embarrassed to ask for help.”
The third and final day of CGI U was called “Day of Action,” an opportunity to mobilize and provide meaningful community service on and off campus. Students and CGI U community members participated in volunteer service activities through Hands On Nashville for projects with the PENCIL Foundation, Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and the Native American Indian Association of Middle Tennessee.