Paige Gress ’15, an international relations major from Buffalo, N.Y., has been selected as the HWS student representative who will join the Talloires Network Leaders Conference, “Live Engagement, Transform Lives,” taking place this December in Cape Town, South Africa. The international conference will bring together leaders of colleges and universities from around the world to exchange ideas about the global movement of higher education civic engagement and social responsibility.
As the selected student representative, Gress has an impressive undergraduate record at HWS, including her work as a senior civic fellow with the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL). Through the fellowship, she serves as a resource for other civic leaders and professional staff, working to connect HWS students to opportunities in civic engagement. Gress also assists with volunteer recruitment and programming for community partners and initiatives, including with the local Community Lunch Program, American Red Cross blood drives and through the Colleges’ Days of Service.
Also attending the Talloires Network Leaders Conference will be Professor of Political Science Kevin Dunn, who has written extensively on international relations and politics in Africa. In addition to his scholarly work, Dunn is a dedicated community member involved in civic engagement and service. At HWS, he co-developed and teaches the first-year seminar, “You Are Here: Geneva 101,” a course that introduces students to the Geneva community and Finger Lakes region to understand the complex interaction of forces that produce a “place.”
The Talloires Network, which is guided by a Steering Committee of 13 members and chaired by HWS President Mark D. Gearan, is an international association of institutions committed to strengthening the civic roles and social responsibilities of higher education.
“The Colleges are privileged to send a student representative and a faculty member to the Talloires Network Leaders Conference as its attendees seek to empower students to affect positive change in their communities and globally,” Gearan says. “Paige Gress and Professor Dunn have both demonstrated their passion for service on campus and off, and we are proud that they will represent the Colleges at this event.”
At the international conference, Gress and Dunn will have the opportunity to connect with other leaders from higher education as they share their perspectives regarding critical issues of today, identify ways to support each other’s efforts and develop collective priorities. Among the range of important themes that will be addressed at the conference are youth employment and economic development.
“I have a strong commitment to seeing institutions of higher education, such as HWS, strengthen their commitment to the host communities,” Dunn says. “It seems that strengthening those ties enriches everyone, and I’m excited to see how other institutions and communities are putting that dedication into action.”
The recipient for the 2014 faculty prize for scholarship, Dunn is co-author of “Inside African Politics” (2013); “Politics of Origin in Africa: Autochthony, Citizenship, and Conflict” (2013); and “African Guerrillas: Raging Against the Machine” (2007), among several other books. He also has authored numerous articles on a diverse array of topics that have appeared in publications ranging from scholarly journals to an independent music magazine. Locally, Dunn helped to launch the “Love Geneva” initiative, a grassroots movement that supports economic and social sustainability.
Gress expects traveling to Cape Town for the conference to be “an astonishing experience” that will immerse her in a professional setting at an international level.
“Having the opportunity to be the voice for the students of HWS at this international conference is something that I take great pride in and I personally strive to carry out this responsibility to the best of my abilities,” she says.
After returning from the spring semester program in Ecuador and Peru, Gress spent the summer as an intern for the International Institute of Buffalo, teaching English as a Second Language to refugees from Burma, Nepal and Thailand. She also served as a lifeguard and swimming instructor at the YMCA of Buffalo Niagara, and as a leader and lifeguard at YMCA Camp Weona. At the Colleges, she is a recipient of the Presidential Service Scholarship, the Civic Peer Engagement Award, and the Robert Malley ’79 Scholarship. She is active with HWS Habitat for Humanity, and is a past secretary of the student organization.
“Paige was selected from a highly competitive pool of applicants for the Talloires opportunity,” says Katie Flowers, director of CCESL. “She will bring with her a demonstrated commitment to social justice issues in Geneva, along with global experience from her semester abroad in Ecuador and Peru, and success with coursework that reflects the mission of the Talloires Network.”
The Talloires Network Leaders Conference is co-sponsored by the South African Higher Education Community Engagement Forum, a coalition of public and private universities in South Africa. The three-day conference will be co-hosted by the Cape Higher Education Consortium, which comprises the four Western Cape universities – Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Stellenbosch University, University of Cape Town and University of the Western Cape.