Guest Post: CGI U

Several ASU students at the CGI U meeting in October 2017.  Odessa is second from the left.

Guest Post: Odessa Clugston

Odessa is a senior pursuing degrees in Political Science and Justice Studies.  Born in Arizona, Odessa is passionate about creating sustainable solutions to community problems. During the past year, Odessa worked as the Student Director of Changemaker Central, leading a team of fifty students to create ideas for social change in the nation’s largest hub for social innovation, service learning, and leadership. She now works with robots at the Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology. As a current Fellow for Young People for the American Way and a Spirit of Service Scholar at ASU, Odessa looks ahead to a future as a civil rights attorney. 

Every year, a thousand student innovators and community leaders gather at the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U)  to collaborate, discuss and create socially innovative ventures. Students come from over ninety different countries to participate in this opportunity hosted by the Clinton Foundation. A few weeks ago, I joined a group of nearly 30 ASU students in Boston at CGI U and was able to discuss my passions and project with social innovators from around the world.

When my team and I applied to attend CGI U this past May, we were thrilled about the opportunity to learn and connect with other like-minded students and industry leaders. Our team is currently filming a documentary on the status of homelessness in our community, using the completed documentary as an advocacy tool for greater public housing support. We thought that by attending CGI U, we would be better able to advance our commitment during the three-day conference. Upon arriving at the conference, our hopes of connecting were fully fulfilled and were able to learn about fundraising, increasing organizational capacity, and creating sustainable impact.

One of the most memorable moments of the weekend came when President Clinton introduced a panel discussion on immigration that featured Madelaine Albright, David Miliband from the IRC, and Sarahi Espinoza Salamanca from Dreamers Roadmap. During the discussion called Creating Opportunity for Migrants and Refugees, panelists discussed how best to support all people seeking to create a better life for themselves and their family. It was incredible to see such diverse and outstanding panelists discuss issues that face our community daily. Our team left the plenary session feeling empowered and inspired to make a difference.

Though the weekend flew by, our new global network connections have only deepened since we left Boston. Our CGI U cohort is continually posting new opportunities in our online communities, showing that a making a commitment is about more than attending a conference – it’s about continuing to work as a social innovator after the meeting.

Overall, the most powerful part of attending CGI U was to see so many different communities working on vastly different issues, all united in a vision to positively impact the world.

Arizona State University is a CGI University Network Member and provides support and mentorship to ASU student innovators and entrepreneurs.   More information about opportunities to develop and advance a commitment to action will be available in Spring 2018.  Any immediate questions about opportunities for ASU students with CGI U can be directed to Lauren Dunning, ASU’s CGI U campus representative and E+I Program Manager.

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