Gyuri Dragomir ’17 and Nicole O’Connell ’16 made their way to Miami, Fla. to participate in the Clinton Global Initiative University from March 6-8. The two students were selected to attend from an international pool of applicants representing young entrepreneurs set to shape the world with innovative ideas.
Hosted by former President Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, the meeting brought together more than 1,000 student leaders worldwide to make Commitments to Action. Commitments to Action are a unique feature of the CGIU conference in which participants are challenged to translate practical goals into meaningful and measurable results. Past Commitments to Action have included a soccer ball that generates energy, a solar-powered telemedicine terminal and a mentoring program for first-generation college students in STEM fields.
Both O’Connell and Dragomir presented their own initiatives during the weekend. O’Connell, who has previously attended the conference as a sophomore, was invited back to this year’s conference to showcase her project, Balanced Bellies. Within the Geneva community, Balanced Bellies has sought to create healthy, cost effective, and educational meal planning strategies for elementary age youth. In partnership with Hobart and William Smith Colleges, elementary age youth will be able to attend monthly cooking seminars and events focused on sustainable community gardens.
“Balanced Bellies strives to educate youth on the accessibility of affordable, healthy, and filling food options so that every child’s belly may be full,” says O’Connell. “This initiative was able to be made into a reality via my CGI U experience at Arizona State University; I attended the conference this year at the University of Miami to further improve my initiative and network with leaders of various cultures, backgrounds, and academic focuses.”
Networking with professionals in each field is a highly valuable experience for both students in attendance. Dragomir, who attended for the first time this year, is seeking to further his concept of a universally-implemented electronic receipt program, named receive. rEcieve’s mission is to ensure the customers utility by introducing a new technology to allow the customer to manage finance on the same level of E-Banking and Electronic Taxes, while also eliminating carbon footprint created by paper receipts.
“The most important aspect that I am looking forward to at this conference is networking and being able to advance my idea/project for electronic receipts,” he says. “It is a rare occasion to go to a conference where everyone truly cares about making this world a better place. I consider myself very fortunate to be able to attend such event.”
Each year, the HWS Centennial Center for Leadership and the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning sponsor students who wish to attend the conference by providing funds and application coaching from experts.
“We encourage the students’ involvement in leading their peers and inspiring their peers through the path they’ve taken, civic programming,” says CCESL Director Katie Flowers. “It’s an additional venue for students to practice their soft skills and realize that they have an opportunity to bring an idea into their community to make it better.”