At the Clinton Global Initiative University in Chicago in late October, Cornell students and alumni met individuals from all over the world to discuss ideas and share their experience in launching social ventures, which aim to tackle specific social issues in their communities.
In order to attend the conference, students needed to apply as individuals or in small groups of up to three students and make a “Commitment to Action,” which addresses a “pressing challenge” in one of CGIU’s five focus areas: education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation or public health, according to Winice Hui ’21, one of the summit attendees.
Hui, along with Naviya Kothari ‘20 and Annie Hughey ‘18, applied as co-founders for Girl4Girl, a startup created to empower women in STEM and to demonstrate “a commitment to combat challenges in education, particularly femme discrimination and stereotypes.”
Ghali Jorio ’21 attended the conference with his project, the Moroccan Youth Social Entrepreneurs Group, which serves as a mentorship program that is committed “to provide Moroccan youth with the resources, spaces and network to contribute to the development of the country,” explained Jorio.
Cornell, which was represented by 12 students and alumni, was one of the biggest delegations at the conference, according to Jorio.
During the conference, delegates from over 100 countries and 50 states came together to network, listen to inspiring panels and keynote speakers, as well as connect to other change-makers. Selected delegates were paired with mentors who previously attended the conference and had launched their own commitments.
“The Clinton Global Initiative University conference was an awesome experience because of all the inspiring student leaders I had the opportunity to meet and the quality of the speeches and presentations,” Imani Majied ’19 said. “It gave me the opportunity to talk about challenges I’ve encountered with launching my own social venture with people who could relate and brainstorm potential solutions I could bring back with me.”
The conference featured a number of panels on topics, such as how to integrate technology into social commitments, how to monitor and evaluate start-ups, and how to manage, recruit and expand. Students also had the opportunity to meet President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and their daughter Chelsea Clinton.
“I believe the most valuable aspect of the conference was the community of passionate advocates coming together for social good,” said Kiyan Rajabi M.S. ’18. “As Chelsea Clinton put it, ‘Optimism is a moral choice. I wake up everyday and choose to be optimistic.’ The conference did just that; it surrounded me with an optimistic tribe that will certainly become some of the world’s next generation of leaders.”