Clinton Global Initiative University Selects Four Oglethorpe Students to Attend 2013 Conference

Last year, Awet Woldegebriel ’14 was selected to be a presenter at the prestigious Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU), founded by President Clinton to bring together students, youth organizations, topic experts, and celebrities to discuss and develop innovative solutions to pressing global challenges. Awet, an international studies major, was invited to attend CGIU again this year to discuss his nonprofit Knowledge Aid—this time accompanied by three more Oglethorpe students: Mon Baroi ’15, Jacob Tadych ’14, and Carolina Duque ’13, selected to attend based on their own impressive projects.

Mon, a politics major and nonprofit management minor, and Jacob, a business major, have been working on Oglethorpe’s Tiny Homes Project since September 2011, with the help of other members of the Oglethorpe community. “The mission of Oglethorpe’s Tiny Homes Project is to build a $400 home that is sustainable and environmentally-conscious on the campus of Oglethorpe in 2013,” explained Mon. “After we build the prototype, our first home, our plan is to raise $5,000 so that we can build five homes that are endorsed by the city of Atlanta for homeless or low-income individuals.”

Mon Baroi '15 and Jacob Tadych '14 happily at work on their project

The team plans to share their plans and research online, so that it may be improved upon and replicated around the world.

“I’m excited (to attend CGIU),” Jacob said. “I’m hoping we can get networks, get more people involved… plus we get to hear all the ideas from other people.”

One of those ideas is Carolina’s nonprofit, Mas Luz, which provides services and aid to help women in Colombia who have been physically and mentally abused.

“I’m looking forward to show everybody what we are doing in Colombia to help,” said Carolina, who is from Colombia and is studying business at Oglethorpe. “I wasn’t expecting (CGIU) to choose me. I am stunned.”

Carolina also hopes to network and to hear about other people’s projects. As Awet experienced last year, CGIU gives students the chance to grow their ideas and to make them a reality.

“The thing about (Tiny Homes) is that a lot of people think that it’s just about a house,” said Mon, “and the thing is, it’s not just about a house, it’s about a state of mind and a lifestyle. We’re advocates of a certain type of lifestyle, a lifestyle of lifelong learning.”

Congratulations, Carolina, Mon, Jacob and Awet—may your ideas continue to flourish!  Learn more about Oglethorpe’s business majors, politics major and nonprofit management minor.

Clinton Global Initiative: A Chance to Change the World

Do you want to change the world?  Here’s a place to start….

Last October, Awet Woldegebriel ’14 submitted an application to attend the fifth annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), launched in 2007 by President Clinton to engage the next generation of leaders on college campuses around the world to turn ideas into action. CGI U builds on the successful model of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), which brings together world leaders to take action on global challenges.

Awet’s passion and commitment, coupled with his story of an early life as a refugee, stood out. He was not only invited to attend, but asked to be a speaker.

Awet was welcomed to the stage by The Daily Show‘s Jon Stewart, which he says was “a true honor.”  During his speech, he talked about his nonprofit Knowledge Aid, which gathers and ships books from the United States to libraries in Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Kenya. “The initiative,” he explained, “is driven by an old but still widely referred to proverb that states: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

The goal of Knowledge Aid is to make aid sustainable and to offer children the chance to enjoy their childhood through books. Awet, who still has memories of the devastation he faced in war-torn Ethiopia and his home country of Eritrea, was able to regain some of his lost childhood through reading books by Dr. Seuss.

“They made me laugh, they made me silly, they made me imagine what a full childhood would have been like,” he says. “And that is why my initiative is so important to me… whatever your initiative, make sure it does justice and represents the passion you have for it.”

Thanks to Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), Awet was able to meet and gain support for Knowledge Aid from many influential people, including former journalist Amanda Lindhout, musician Hugo Levy, supermodels Christie Brinkley and Anna Maria Lewiarz, and Argentinian Education Minister Esteban Bullrich.  His facebook page for Knowledge Aid, which had 147 “likes” before the conference, now has over 2200.

Awet, who is now a CGI ambassador and recruiter, will be co-hosting an informational meeting with President Larry Schall on Monday, October 22, from 7:00-8:00 p.m. in Lupton Auditorium.

“We want to encourage more Oglethorpe students to take part in the conference and also grow their ideas,” said Awet. “You (will) have access to the people you don’t have access to, so your ideas can expand and grow through CGI. We will help you to accomplish those ideas and initiatives.”

If you’re interested  in nonprofit work, social enterprise, or in giving back—then this meeting is for you! Come learn more about CGI’s purpose, benefits, and how you might get the chance to attend the next CGI meeting…and learn how you can propel your ideas and make a difference.

Oglethorpe’s Got Spirit! (Yes, we do!)

Last week marked the beginning of a new tradition on campus as Oglethorpe University experienced its first-ever Spirit Week, leading up to the weekend’s Homecoming basketball game and dance.

Each day of Spirit Week ushered in a different theme:

– Monday, February 6 was Geek Day and the suspenders were in full swing as students embraced their inner geek spirit.

– February 7 was Tacky Tuesday, when being tacky was the new chic as students broke out their ugliest sweaters. (Wow!)

– Wednesday was the annual Oglethorpe Day, honoring our school’s namesake. Students showed their Oglethorpe pride and came out in record numbers to watch the Petrels of Fire Race, a decades-long tradition in which runners try to circle the quad and beat the tolling of the noon bells. (Still no winner this year…)

A contest for highest class participation on Oglethorpe Day was won by the Class of 2015.  As a prize, February 15 was declared Freshmen Day and members of the class enjoyed a Freshmen Feast, provided by Campus Life.

After the race, students (and staff!) participated in a shopping carts “floats” parade, decorated by student organizations and university departments. Sigma Sigma Sigma took home the prize for the best 2012 Homecoming Float.

The ladies of Sigma Sigma Sigma - winners of the 2012 Shopping Cart Parade contest

The parade led to the Conant Performing Arts Center for a presentation on “What Happens in Cuba Doesn’t Stay in Cuba,” given by faculty and students who traveled to Cuba over winter break as part of a semester-long study of the historic, economic, political and cultural facets of the country.

– Thursday was deemed Black & Gold Day and students proudly wore the OU colors and participated in that evenings Homecoming bonfire.

 – Friday was Spirit Shirt Day and the day of the Homecoming games. The battle with Sewanee was set and Oglethorpe students were riled up from a week of spirit-building. The game ended with a 69-49 win over Sewanee.

Kappa Sigma Fraternity - Winners of the 2012 Homecoming Spirit Award.

Students seemed more passionate than ever at this year’s Homecoming game and that was not overlooked. Student Government Association awarded the first-ever Oglethorpe University Homecoming Spirit Award trophy. This year’s winner was Kappa Sigma, a new fraternity on campus.

The grand finale of the Spirit Week fun was “A Starry Night in Paris,” Saturday’s Homecoming dance at the Westin Hotel Atlanta.

The Blank Foundation’s “The Future of the American Dream” Webcast to Include Oglethorpe Students

Americans have always believed that hard work and education open the doors to success.  Is that promise still alive for today’s generation of students?

Oglethorpe University students Christina Bayne, Will Jones, Misty Love, Katie Odell, Corey Ray, Kristy Williams, Ashley Causey, Awet Woldegebriel, Joseph White, and Maya Hayes will discuss that question during a live webcast titled The Future of The American Dream on December 1 at 6:00 p.m. The webcast is organized by the The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and is part of their Speaker Series. The discussion will feature Bob Herbert, journalist and Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos, and Deborah Bial, president and founder of The Posse Foundation. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Garrow will moderate the discussion.

“We are delighted that a number of Oglethorpe students will join us for our live speaker series event,” said Penny McPhee, president of the The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation.

Oglethorpe University students were invited by the foundation to take part and will participate alongside students from several other metro Atlanta universities, including Spelman College, Morehouse College, Clark Atlanta University, Agnes Scott College, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Georgia State University.

Join the live webcast at http://bit.ly/ambdream, no registration needed. The page also contains links to speaker bios, interviews with area college students on The Future of the AmericanDream, and links to resources and news articles.

Oglethorpe Takes Up White House Campus Challenge

This year Oglethorpe University will participate in President Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, which challenges more than 300  colleges and universities around the country to promote intentional interfaith dialogue and community service. Oglethorpe will focus specifically on the issues of health and hunger.

To work toward meeting the challenge, OU students and staff created COEXIST Oglethorpe, an effort open to all Oglethorpe students, faculty, staff, and alumni who are interested in this interfaith initiative. Staff from the offices of Admission, Campus Life, and Center for Civic Engagement have met with students Clair Carter ’12, Jimmy Comerford ’13, Emily Sharfstein ’14, Awet Woldegebriel ’14, Zach Robinson ’15 and Ruwa Romman ’15 throughout the summer to pave the road for the next two semesters.

“COEXIST helps us create a culture of understanding and in doing so, allows us to reach out to the community and work towards progress in health and hunger,” said incoming freshman and committee member Zach Robinson ’15.

Heather Staniszewski ’02, assistant director of the Center for Civic Engagement, recalls that when she first started working at Oglethorpe, she was impressed with “the Interfaith Council and collaboration between faith groups to keep the dialogue open and ongoing.”  She joined COEXIST Oglethorpe because it “gives [her] a chance to work with students and fellow OU staff members of different faiths to not only educate the community, but educate [each other].”

The fall semester’s inaugural event, to be held September 11, 2011 in Emerson Student Center, will combine service projects with an educational interfaith dialogue. The day will consist of three different service projects including a healthy nonperishable food drive, a blood drive from 1:00-6:00 p.m. hosted by the American Red Cross, and an opportunity to write letters to soldiers and veterans. From 2:00-4:00 p.m. a panel of various community faith leaders will answer questions and lead discussions with participants.

Please direct any questions or interest in volunteering for these events to the Center for Civic Engagement staff via email at hstan@oglethorpe.edu or call 404-504-1978.  We hope to see you in Emerson on Sunday, September 11.