Dominique DeRubeis ‘18, Andrew Silard ‘18 and Elizabeth Weingast ’18 joined 1,200 students from around the world at Northeastern University to participate in the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU) on Oct. 13-15. Designed by President Bill Clinton L.H.D. ‘17, CGIU brings student leaders together to address the world’s most pressing challenges.
Now in its 10th year, the international conference empowers participants “to turn ideas into action” by outlining a plan to implement change on campus, in the community or throughout the world.
DeRubeis, an economics and computer science double major, is familiar with using social entrepreneurship to tackle complex problems. The winner of the HWS Hackathon entrepreneurial competition and a finalist in Stu Lieblein ’90 Pitch Contest, DeRubeis along with her partner Angel Salas-Espana ’17 proposed “Rabit Microfinance Initiative (RMFI)” as her commitment to action, an organization that would provide microloans to refugees in Jordan’s Zaatari camp.
“CGIU really illustrated how many engaged students are undertaking plans to positively impact the world,” says DeRubeis. “CGIU left me with a desire to change the world and a commitment to finding a practical way to do just that, regardless of what my career title is.”
DeRubeis says one of the most rewarding parts of the weekend was participating in a day of service coordinated by the conference throughout Boston.
“As the co-president of the HWS Day of Service, I know how much thought goes into planning a day of service for so many volunteers,” she says. “I appreciated the encouragement of student leadership and innovation, as well as thought and career leadership throughout the conference.”
Weingast and Silard worked together to create a commitment to action titled “Revolve” that provides a platform for people to crowdfund non-profit projects in a specific location.
Silard says CGIU gave “Revolve” the chance to be workshopped by mentors and other students attending the conference.
“The inspiration for the idea came from the conviction that people share a philanthropic interest,” says Silard. “But they lack an outlet to help others. I believe this concept has the opportunity to transform philanthropy.”
Distinguished experts in topics such as disaster response, the opioid epidemic, relief for refugees and displaced populations and violence against women led panels and moderated discussions throughout the conference, including: vice chair of the Clinton Foundation Chelsea Clinton, former secretary of state and chair of the Albright Stonebridge Group Madeleine Albright, and Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson among many others.
The most impactful part of the conference, says Weingast, was the opportunity to participate in meaningful dialogue with people from around the world. “One of the main things I took away from the weekend was being able to interact and connect with students from as far as Africa to Hungary to talk about issues facing the globe.”
Student participation in the CGIU conference was supported by the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL), Centennial Center and Entrepreneurial Studies.