Park Scholars Solve Problems Collaboratively at Clinton Global Initiative University

Four Park Scholars – Alex Brown ’17, Chandler Gonzales ’18, Alex Kim ’17, and Charan Mohan ’15 – were part of NC State’s delegation to this year’s Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), and attended the CGI U conference at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. from March 6-8, 2015. The conference drew more than 1,100 students from 80 countries, as well as university representatives, topic experts, and celebrities. Participants discussed pressing global challenges, and how they’re taking concrete steps toward solving them.

Building on the successful model of the Clinton Global Initiative, which brings together world leaders to take action on international challenges, President Bill Clinton launched CGI U in 2007 to engage the next generation of leaders on college campuses around the world. NC State is in its second year as a part of this network of colleges.

“I was motivated to attend this conference based on my desire to meet like-minded individuals,” said Brown, a business administration major with a minor in economics. “It was a great way to network and learn from global leaders with creative and innovative solutions to pressing world issues.”

“My biggest takeaway from CGI U was meeting other people doing impactful things in every field imaginable,” said Gonzales, who is majoring in computer science. “I learned from everyone I talked to, and made very valuable connections.”

Kim, a chemical engineering major, paraphrased a quote from the conference which he found to be particularly thought-provoking: “We have to stop silo-ing issues as if they aren’t connected to all other issues. All of these issues will affect your future, so don’t just do service because it’s the right thing to do, do it because it’s the smart thing to do.”

NC State’s Student Leadership & Engagement unit will award this year’s CGI U delegates seed funding to implement the projects they presented at the conference, which address issues in the areas of peace and human rights, public health, poverty alleviation, and education.

During the CGI U conference, Brown and Kim presented the project they and two of their Park classmates have been implementing over the course of this academic year as a Civic Engagement Initiative (CEI). Through CEIs sophomore Park Scholars work in small groups, each under the guidance of a junior or senior Park Scholar, to create beneficial community change. The goals of CEIs mirror those of CGI U, as they focus on concrete solutions to real-world problems.

“We are launching Musical Empowerment at NC State, an organization seeking to provide instruments, weekly music lessons, and mentorship to underserved 4th through 8th graders in Raleigh – all at no cost to them,” said Kim. “I think the most valuable takeaway is just how quickly progress can be made, so long as you have a dedicated and passionate team working with you.”

For more details about Musical Empowerment at NC State, as well as the projects that Gonzales and Mohan pitched at CGI U, check out these video summaries (please watch in HD):

Brown and Kim: Musical Empowerment at NC State

Gonzales: Food Drive, Inc.

Mohan: Triangle Fistula Initiative