Placing in the top 10 of college and university teams across the country, five HWS students won coveted spots at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation Fiscal Summit in Washington, D.C. this spring and a $1,000 prize for their success in the nationwide competition of more than 100 teams that gathered to discuss national debt as a public issue.
John Camara ’19, Jesse Maltese ’20, Brian Schaumloffel ’20, Ryan Skinner ’19 and Mikaela Zallen ’20 were honored for their work in the Up to Us competition, sponsored by Net Impact, the Clinton Global Initiative and the Peterson Foundation. The competition is focused on building a sustainable economic and fiscal future for millennials by educating them on American’s $21 trillion debt.
“The Washington trip was a reaffirmation of the data our group produced,” says Zallen, who with her peers heard remarks from Capitol Hill leaders like House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake during the summit. “The national debt is a bipartisan issue that affects us all, and must be solved by everyone as a community regardless of political ideology.”
On campus, the group led projects to raise awareness of the national debt, including a survey, a faculty panel and a “My Two Cents Day” event in the Scandling Campus Center, where students were invited to place two pennies in one of six receptacles, each representing a solution to the debt—from cutting military spending to raising taxes. In addition, they collected 696 pledges, which recognized the debt as an important issue and urged policymakers to address it.
For members of the HWS chapter, national debt is an issue of economic justice. “The debt matters to our generation because we will be the ones to inherit it,” says Camara, who initiated the chapter earlier this year after his internship with the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy. “The national debt is on track to be unsustainable for our generation. We have a responsibility to educate our peers about what is happening and any possible solutions.”