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March 16, 2016

Ten MSU students selected for Clinton Global Initiative University meeting

Ten Spartans will attend the Clinton Global Initiative University annual meeting in California next month based on their ambitious plans to address areas such as education, poverty and the environment.

Former President Bill Clinton launched the CGI U to engage a growing network of young leaders who are developing innovative solutions to pressing world challenges. Students are selected to attend the annual meeting based on their Commitment to Action: a new, specific and measurable plan that addresses an issue on their campus, in their local community or around the the numbers graphic“The projects from this diverse and impressive group of Michigan State University undergraduate students demonstrates that entrepreneurial thinking applies to social ventures and can be harnessed to bring significant change to the world,” said Neil Kane, MSU’s director of undergraduate entrepreneurship.

The CGI U Network is a consortium of colleges and universities that support, mentor and provide seed funding to leading student innovators and entrepreneurs. MSU joined the network in 2015 through the sponsorship of the Office of the Director of Undergraduate Entrepreneurship.

Students attending this year’s meeting – April 1-3 at the University of California, Berkeley – are receiving financial and technical support from MSU to attend in addition to receiving seed funding to begin their projects.

Funding has been provided by many MSU entities including the Office of the Director of Undergraduate Entrepreneurship, Spartan Innovations and the Honors College as well as each college and department represented by the students.

Here are the CGI U Spartans by commitment:

Bridge to Health: Roberta Dankyi

Dankyi is a Master Card Scholar, second-year Honors College nursing student and member of MSU’s Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment, or RISE. Her Commitment to Action is a healthcare initiative that will train healthcare professionals to serve as the bridge that will close the gap between medical information and the average uneducated woman in Africa. These professionals will educate women and girls on the risk, symptoms and prevention of cervical and breast cancer. With only 27 percent of the population in upper east and west Ghana able to read and write, it is vital to have health professionals going into the homes of women to educate them.

Garden Buddies: Eamon Devlin, Haley Fulco, Bethany Kogut

Devlin is a junior in the Honors College studying environmental studies and sustainability, Fulco is a freshman in the Honors College studying zoology and Kogut is a sophomore in the Honors College studying elementary education. All three are members of RISE. Their Garden Buddies Commitment to Action is applying traditional horticultural knowledge in an innovative way to support families who want to grow nutritious food. By providing needy families with hands-on training and support, students will help them extend the growing season and produce high-quality nutritious food with minimal inputs. They will partner residents in the Lansing community who are battling hunger with students who are excited to share their expertise in cultivating food through an extended growing season.

Life After Rape Initiative: William Yakah

Yakah is a Master Card Scholar and freshman neuroscience major as well as a member of the Honors College. His Life After Rape Initiative is aimed at providing access to quality healthcare insurance and education to young women who are rape victims in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is run by Students for a Healthy Africa, a coalition of students across the world who are passionate about helping to improve healthcare in Africa.

Meals for Mealworms: Mathew Huber, Lindsay Mensch, Kirsten West

Huber is a freshman environmental science major, Mensch is a freshman in the Honors College studying English and West is a freshman with plans to study the environmental sciences. All three are active in RISE. Their Meals for Mealworms Commitment to Action is to research the ability of mealworms to decompose polystyrene (Styrofoam) waste and to educate students at MSU about the harmful effects of polystyrene. Mealworms can digest polystyrene and break it down into nontoxic organic matter. This discovery could be the solution to diverting toxic waste.

No Clean Coal: Marshall Clabeaux

Clabeaux, a senior, is majoring in advertising and is active in RISE. His Commitment to Action is to transition from dirty coal powered energy into 100 percent renewable energy production throughout Michigan through the increase in the number of wind farms. He plans to pair private landowners, including farmers, with leading turbine manufacturers and developers.

Virtual Rehab: Jacob Ziemba

Ziemba is a junior studying economics. His Commitment to Action is a program called Virtual Rehab that’s designed for the long-term treatment of college-aged people with drug and alcohol addictions. The program combines interactive virtual reality simulation and a trained supervisor to lead discussion. The supervisor stimulates users to learn lessons that treat the underlying causes of their addictions. Virtual Rehab’s vision is to emotionally and rationally persuade substance abusers to understand their difficulties and teach them new skills to improve their quality of life.

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