Two MLFTC students invited to CGI U at University of Chicago

Two MLFTC students invited to CGI U at University of Chicago
November 16, 2018
Trista Sobeck

This year, two Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College students were invited to attend Clinton Global Initiative University, a prestigious meeting of university students from around the globe. Based on the model of the Clinton Global Initiative, which brings together world leaders, CGI U was launched by President Clinton to engage the next generation of leaders on college campuses worldwide.

During the gathering, students make commitments to action, which are new, specific and measurable initiatives that address pressing challenges on campus, in local communities or around the world.

Natalie Rudolph (BAE ’19) and Ye “Cherie” Chen (MEd ’19) made commitments to help tackle social and environmental challenges within their area of study and expertise (mentorship and sustainability on college campuses, respectively). This is Rudolph's second year attending CGI U.

More than 1,000 students attend the meeting hosted by CGI U at a different university each year. This year’s — held at the University of Chicago — focused on five areas: education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation and public health.

“As MLFTC works to prepare future educators to shape meaningful learning environments, engagement in opportunities like CGI U is critical for students as they develop their own leadership and work to advance meaningful projects that are solutions-oriented,” says Lauren Dunning, senior program manager of entrepreneurship and innovation for ASU Knowledge Enterprise Development. Dunning also serves as project liaison for CGI U.

"ASU is a CGI U University Network Member, providing support, mentorship and access to seed funding resources for students focused on social innovation,” explains Dunning. ASU hosted the CGI U annual meeting in 2014, an opportunity that showcased ASU’s commitment to student-driven social change and entrepreneurship.

Natalie Rudolph and the mentorship of Latino students

Natalie Rudolph understands the power of mentorship and began a program connecting special-needs students to student government mentors while in high school. This sparked her to pursue a special education/elementary education major and a Spanish minor. The college senior continued mentoring at ASU by volunteering at a Title I school, Aguilar Elementary, and joining organizations within Barrett, The Honors College at ASU, that work with elementary school students.

She is committed to implementing a college preparedness mentor program for aspiring Latino students in Phoenix, Arizona. “We are partnering with Phoenix Collegiate Academy, an underprivileged high school where 92 percent of the students are Hispanic. Mentors will provide college testing, admissions, scholarship application and resume assistance,” she explains.

Rudolph’s team expects to significantly decrease college dropout rates among Latino students. She explains that the challenges are not just local: “Latinos have the highest high school dropout rate — 32 percent — with only 34 percent earning a college degree,” she says. “Currently 98 percent desire to graduate from high school and yet one-third believe it is not possible,” she continues.

Rudolph reports that by 2050, Latinos will represent 29.2 percent of the population and workforce. “Our program is designed to increase the matriculation rate of Latinos graduating from high school and entering into college. We want to change the mindset of these young men and women into believing that they can graduate from high school and obtain a college degree, thereby increasing earning power and job opportunities,” she says.

Ye “Cherie” Chen and sustainability

We hope that the students gain a new perspective about how to best move forward in implementing their ideas.

Ye “Cherie” Chen was selected as an outstanding student to study abroad with sponsorship from the China Scholarship Council. Among other achievements, she is a peer mentor in the ASU Global Guides program and an event director for the ASU Coalition of International Students.

Chen recently won the First Generation Innovators Award of $500 for her idea to reduce the use of plastic water bottles on campus through ASU Changemaker Central. She has made this her passion project and has committed to reduce the use of disposable water bottles on five ASU campuses.

Chen reflects on the sustainability shift that is happening worldwide. “My peers in China are more environmentally minded [than here in the U.S.]  Since resources per capita are scarcer in China and K–12 education focuses a lot on cultivating children's awareness to protect the environment, you can see almost everywhere in China families are recycling and people carry a reusable water bottle wherever they go,” she observes.

“I’m going to launch a water bottle campaign to address the health benefits of drinking safe water more frequently, cost benefits of using refillable water bottles, and positive environmental impacts of eliminating disposable water bottle use,” explains Chen.

By partnering with ASU Changemaker Central for financial support to attend CGI U, the Graduate and Professional Student Association and Undergraduate Student Government for student engagement support, as well as university administrative assistants and partner companies for action support, Chen has engaged a number of organizations to help reach her goal. By the end of the fall 2018 semester, she expects to decrease the use of disposable water bottles by all ASU students on campus by 40 percent.

“Since my current major is Higher Education, I am passionate about working with college students. This would be a great fit for me to get to know their need, and potentially educate them on the economic and environmental benefit of using a reusable water bottle,” says Chen.

Hope for the future

According to Dunning, the CGI U annual meeting is different from other conferences in that it provides not only inspiration by way of an excellent series of speakers, but also practical guidance and mentorship to encourage students to continue to advance their commitment.

“We hope that the students gain a new perspective about how to best move forward in implementing their ideas,” says Dunning. “At ASU, we work to continuously support students who are interested in taking action and advancing social innovation efforts.”

Find out more about both Rudolph's and Chen’s degree programs. Check out the Bachelor of Arts in Education, Special Education and Elementary Education degree or the Master of Education in Educational Leadership degree today.