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.

Remembering FDR’s Commencement Speech at Oglethorpe

Backstage at the Fox Theatre, Judge Edgar Watkins adjusts Governor Roosevelt's doctoral hood. Dr. Thornwell Jacobs stands to the far left.

On May 22, 1932, then New York Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt received a Doctor of Laws honorary degree from Oglethorpe University at the commencement ceremony held at the Fox Theatre. He gave a rousing speech about the state of the nation—and that speech went on to become  historically significant as the beginning of the future President’s New Deal plan.

“The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.

We need enthusiasm, imagination and the ability to face facts, even unpleasant ones, bravely. We need the courage of the young. Yours is not the task of making your way in the world, but the task of remaking the world which you will find before you. May every one of us be granted the courage, the faith and the vision to give the best that is in us to that remaking!”

Thornwell Jacobs, the President of Oglethorpe at the time, chose to award Roosevelt with the honorary degree “in recognition of his high achievements in statesmanship, economics, and philanthropy.”  (New York Times, March 28, 1931.)

FDR had deep connections to Georgia. He often visited the state for treatment of his paralytic illness. His personal retreat, Little White House, was built on his 1,750-acre farm at the top of Pine Mountain. The farm is now part of Georgia’s biggest state park that was named after him.

Our own President Schall also reflected on this speech in his personal blog.

President Roosevelt’s words withstand the test of time—and his entire Oglethorpe commencement speech is well worth the read!