Susan Broadbridge Printz
Two students at The University of Southern Mississippi will attend the highly competitive Clinton Global Initiative to take action toward developing real-world solutions to global challenges.
Called the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), former U.S. President Bill Clinton started the program in 2007 to allow the next generation of world leaders the opportunity to invest in their futures, bringing together college students, university representatives, topic experts and celebrities to discuss the pressing issues that affect the global community.
“This is a special opportunity for me as a future leader to create innovative ideas that will address and change our community, instead of just talking about the problems at hand,” said Kristen Dupard, a junior biochemistry major and 2015 CGI U attendee. “I simply want to be a difference maker in my community.”
CGI U focuses on five major areas for innovation: education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation and public health.
The area of education focuses on improving education systems by integrating more technology into classrooms and helping disadvantaged groups in providing them access to opportunities for higher education. Environment and climate change discusses the climate changes due to human interaction, ways to expand renewable energy economy and become more sustainable.
Poverty alleviation allows students the opportunity to create innovative platforms for economic stability, cost-effective technology and agricultural development. Peace and human rights give future leaders the idea of devising awareness campaigns about a wide variety of topics concerning the geopolitical, military and cultural conflicts around the world.
Public health lets students put together programs and health initiatives to expand the knowledge of health issues and services to underprivileged groups in developing and developed regions.
However, before students can attend the CGI U, they must complete their Commitments to Action, practical goals that are new, specific and measurable initiatives that can be small or large, local or global and financial or non monetary.
To show the students’ impact on society, since 2008, more than 4,800 Commitments to Action and nearly $2 million in funding has been awarded to these commitment makers.
“I am very excited about implementing our commitment,” said Jeremy Moore, a junior instrumental and choral music education major as well as a 2015 CGI U attendee. “I am sure that Kristen (Dupard) and I will create some very memorable experiences here and the fact that she and I were selected is not shocking because we have worked very hard for this.”
The two scholars created their commitment “Empower the Vote, Save the Vote” geared toward spreading awareness to high school and college students about the importance of being a registered voter in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The commitment will also include seminars with legislative officials, voter registration drives and mock town hall meetings that will serve as an audience for students to voice their thoughts and exercise their right to vote.
By partnering with the city of Hattiesburg, surrounding universities and local businesses, the two students plan to get many young registered voters.
“Students will have a transparent line of communication in having the opportunity to directly address officials such as the Mayor of Hattiesburg Johnny Dupree, about voting and why they should,” Dupard said. “It is our goal to register all eligible students in the Hattiesburg Public School (District) to vote by December 2015.”
Dupard also said they hope to empower college students to vote by hosting university debates at Southern Miss, Jones County Junior College, William Carey University and Pearl River Community College to discuss the issues concerning the city of Hattiesburg, the state of Mississippi and across the country.
“It is our desire that the debates will spark interests to seek change in the community and foster a space where thought-provoking topics transcend into realistic solutions,” Dupard said. “We will begin contacting universities for participation in the debates in July 2015 and begin holding the debates October 2015.”
According to Dupard, she was able to obtain this opportunity through the help of a university alumna and former CGI U student leader, Jazmyne Butler.
Butler said it meant so much to see her send her Commitment to Action to CGI U.
“To be among world leaders representing a cause benefiting so many people was an amazing experience,” Butler stated. “I’m grateful that (Dupard) will share in this awesome experience as well.”
President Clinton and Chelsea Clinton will host the CGI U 2015 at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, from March 6-8, bringing together more than 1,100 students who desire to change the world with world-class innovation.
“Up until a few months ago, I did not know what CGI U was,” Moore said. “However, now, this is an event that I will never forget and I am looking forward to all that is to come from it.”