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Monday, April 06, 2015

Advancing the Aspirations of NSHSS College Members

On March 6-8, 2015, more than 1,100 college students gathered on the campus of the University of Miami to experience the 8th annual Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) conference. Among these outstanding college scholars were NSHSS members, eight of whom received travel scholarships from NSHSS.

“Powerful. Enduring. Amazing. Those three words describe my time at the 8th Annual Clinton Global Initiative University,” said Ton La, NSHSS Student Council member and student at the University of Houston.

Each attendee at the conference makes a “Commitment to Action” in one of CGI U’s five focus areas: Education, Environment and Climate Change, Peace and Human Rights, Poverty Alleviation, and Public Health. The opportunity for NSHSS college scholars to connect with peers from more than 80 countries is tremendous. Many new collaborations are made, in addition to lasting friendships. Ton said, “I had the great pleasure of meeting Marvin Tarawally from Liberia. When Marvin told me about his Commitment to Action to affect the infrastructure of a schools, I was speechless. In his home country in Liberia, children go through the school system to only find themselves without the necessary skills to succeed in the job market.”

NSHSS is immensely proud of all of our members that attended CGI U. Congratulations to Ton La and his peers at the University of Houston who won a Resolution Social Venture Challenge (RSVC)!

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Check out the impact that NSHSS scholars are making through their Commitments to Action:

Shahwar Ali (Berea College)
Helping Hands is committed to provide free education to disabled children in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Children will be given free wheelchairs so they can access school and those whose families cannot afford to send them to school.

Ayat Amin (University of California, San Diego)
Lotus is a commitment to increase access to clean rivers in rural areas. Lotus is a sustainable engineering design for polluted river systems. Our team is addressing chemical and solid waste water pollution within the Citarum River, Indonesia.

Clarisse Caliman (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
The project Waste-Free Myanmar will pilot an educational campaign targeting high school students to promote awareness of waste issues with the goal of creating a sustainable town-run training system on these issues as well as enthusiasm and confidence among emerging student leaders to actively combat waste problems.

Ameya Kotwal (The Ohio State University)
I plan to create a physical therapy department and a music program at the Prabodhini Trust in Nashik, India. These new programs will give the children better access to education and more opportunities at employment once they graduate.

Ton La (University of Houston)
Cougar Chefs volunteers will collect leftover food from campus dining facilities, transform recovered food and food donations into meals, and make weekly deliveries to the Third Ward community next to the University of Houston. The program also aims to educate community residents about proper nutrition, healthy food options, and health implications that arise from restricted access to quality foods.

Augustina Mensa-Kwao (University of Virginia)
The creation and launch of the “Mend Our Minds” phone application and mood bracelet campaign will work to use music and daily inspirational words to improve mental health by elevating endorphin levels in the brain. The application will be equipped with a section that creates an automatic uplifting playlist based on music genre and an interactional depression awareness and suicide prevention section that will connect students to the University of Virginia’s Counseling and Psychological Services resources.

Caroline Patton (University of West Florida)
LEAP (Lead and Enhance Appalachia Project) is a youth leadership and educational engagement program that will partner with The Congressional Award (TCA) in Washington, DC. The Congressional Award is our nation’s highest youth leadership recognition by Congress. LEAP will embrace the TCA learning platform to help address poverty in Appalachia and teach youth about personal development and goal setting, volunteerism and civic responsibility, physical fitness and nutrition, and resource exploration.

Brittany Sharma (University of Victoria)
My commitment to action is to create Koro, an outdoor after-school resource center for children who have lived, or continue to live, in a transition house where they can engage in conversations about violence in a safe atmosphere. This will give them a chance to network with youth in similar circumstances to foster dialogue and create direct actions to change rape culture in their community.

To view webcasts from the 8th annual CGI U, visit

To hear more about Ton La’s experience, visit the NSHSS Blog.