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Aug. 10, 2017

14 Spartans to attend Clinton Global Initiative University meeting

Ten teams, consisting of 14 Spartans, have been selected to attend this year’s Clinton Global Initiative University annual meeting at Northeastern University in Boston.

Michigan State University undergraduate and graduate students have commitments in the areas of peace and human rights, environment and climate change, education and poverty alleviation.

The Oct. 13-15 meeting will mark the 10th anniversary of former President Bill Clinton’s initiative, each year bringing together world leaders, students, celebrities, university faculty and special topic experts to discuss prevalent global issues and novel solutions to those issues.

The number of MSU students invited to attend the meeting increased 45 percent between 2015 and 2017.

“There is a large segment of our undergraduate students who are interested in social change,” said Neil Kane, director of undergraduate entrepreneurship at MSU. “What they may not understand is that even people whose motivation is to improve the world still need a grounding in basic business skills. Every project, even a social one, needs a solid plan that will keep it going.”

Interest in entrepreneurship at MSU is growing with programs in place to guide students wishing to turns their dreams into reality. The Minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment, or RISE, Spartan Innovations, The Hive and MSU Hatch are some of the resources offered for student entrepreneurs.

“I think the entrepreneurship culture at MSU is on the rise,” said Matthew Eleweke, former MSU football player and co-founder of Sympl., a higher education application. “MSU helped me love entrepreneurship and I know other students will feel the same way once they discover what MSU has to offer.”

Michigan State will provide partial funding for student travel and project funding. CGI U allows for one university representative to accompany each school’s participants; MSU’s representative for 2017 is Neil Kane. This year, more than 1,100 students will attend the meeting. 

Here are MSU’s representatives, listed by project: 

KiDS (environment and climate change): Timosha Krivtsov, Jake Sadilek

Timosha Krivtsov, a junior undergraduate art and design major, and Jake Sadilek, a junior undergraduate psychology major, started KiDS with their target audience being MSU students.  KiDS commitment is directed toward ethically sourcing materials designed for interchangeable garments, supporting aspiring global/student entrepreneurs and artists, educating children on sustainability and raising awareness of unethical and manipulative fashion practices.

MentorShape (education): William Yakah

William Yakah, a junior neuroscience major and Honors College member, is the only Spartan to attend the CGI U annual meeting in 2016 and in 2017. “I think I am more excited to attend this year’s event than anyone else,” said Yakah. “I had an incredible experience meeting other equally motivated changemakers from all over the world, and I cannot wait to meet them again.”

MentorShape is committed to redefining peer mentorship by pairing high achieving students with lower-class students who demonstrate great potential in an effort to increase the number of college students from public schools. Mentees will be encouraged to look beyond their community and aspire for greater goals to set; mentors will learn to be more connected with their community and to consciously find more ways to be influential leaders within the community. 

Community Entrepreneurship and Apprenticeship Academy (poverty alleviation): Daniel Muhwezi, Margaret Wangari Githua

Daniel Muhwezi, a graduate student studying sustainable development, and Margaret Wangari Githua, a graduate student studying public relations, have teamed to create the Community Entrepreneurship and Apprenticeship Academy, or CEAA. CEAA is committed to curb the high rate of poverty and youth unemployment in the Democratic Republic of Congo by establishing a charity organization, Bunifu, launching in 2018 with a year pilot from CEAA. The CEAA aims to help reverse the downward trend of poverty and unemployment in Congo over 20 years of civil war by supporting startups and existing businesses with high potential growth and providing hands-on job readiness to university graduates and vocational educational training to youth with non-formal education.

Entrepreneurs for Africa (poverty alleviation): Nydia Hawala

Nydia Hawala, a graduate student studying international affairs, created Entrepreneurs for Africa to support the entrepreneurs working in potential growth areas such as agriculture, water and electricity, housing, education and health care as catalysts for development. The team will partner with the Network with African Professionals in the Diaspora, Angolan Institute for Small and Medium enterprises, USAID Angola and the Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project.

Beyond Horizons (education): Kevin Ackerman

Kevin Ackerman, a senior business administration major, created Beyond Horizons to unite children of various upbringings to find a passion for education, while seeking to better each other’s communities. Beyond Horizons aims to address educational inequality by uniting a diverse group of people in after-school programs aimed for low-income and immigrant families that have less access to quality education. Beyond Horizons hopes to bring together children from vastly different economic backgrounds to create accessibility for low-income students, as well as a sense of awareness to high-income students.

BEElieve in Pollinators (environment and climate change): Oliver Autrey, Michal Babinski, Anna Jullie

Oliver Autrey and Michal Babinski, both sophomores and biology majors, and Anna Jullie, a sophomore environmental science major, have created BEElieve in Pollinators. The trio – all RISE students – hopes to increase knowledge and change behaviors of the general public to support pollinator health, especially bees, addressing the global problem of pollinator decline and challenges of food production, habitat preservation and environmental degradation. BEElieve in Pollinators has targeted MSU students and residents of areas surrounding MSU to create an awareness of the importance of the plants being grown and the impact that pesticides and herbicides can have on pollinators.

Sympl. (education): Matthew Eleweke

Matthew Eleweke is a co-founder of the application, Sympl. The app creates communities within higher educational classrooms for students to build up interpersonal relationships with their peers and thrive academically. It allows students to create study groups with other students enrolled in the course and tracks important course dates and assignments. Sympl. hopes to partner with public universities and community colleges to ensure students in higher education have access to the resources necessary to reach full academic potential. 

Creating Shared Value Partner with Urban Poor Farmers (poverty alleviation): Abhishek Jindal

Abhishek Jindal, a graduate student earning his MBA, will collaborate with poor farmers with less than one acre in urban India to build mechanized vertical farms on their land. Vertical farming addresses the shortage of urban farmland through higher farm productivity, reduces losses from unseasonal rains due to greenhouse enclosures and helps provide farmers access to capital.

The Data Science Consulting League (education): Anna Caroline Rabello Rolim

Anna Caroline Rabello Rolim, a junior studying chemistry, created the Data Science Consulting League to make data science, a rising technology sector, understandable and achievable through innovative curriculum in Brazil, a country displaying a large educational gap in science, technology, engineering and math. The initiative will allow Brazilian students to learn powerful data tools that can be applied to politics, environment, medicine and economics. The goal: increase data literacy in Sao Paulo, Brazil, by 20 percent in 12 months.

Peace and Human Rights: Jazlyn Dixon

Jazlyn Dixon, a senior majoring in creative advertising and MI: film production, hopes her creation, Peace and Human Rights, will stimulate interest in arts and media and give urban youth skills through mentoring, teaching and volunteering. Programs at schools and camps to teach youth how to manipulate artistic computer programs will be put in place. To start, Dixon wishes to solve the deterioration of art in urban communities of Lansing and Detroit.