Luther students impact Clinton Global Initiative University

Eight Luther students diligently worked on a proposal for five months to fit the theme, "Bringing ideas into action" and then presented it at the Clinton Global Initiative University conference Friday-Sunday, April 5-7 at St. Louis's Washington University.            

The Luther students, Rudie Desravines, Natalino Guterres, Amelia R. Kundel, Laura Mesadieu, Elsie Muronzie, Rahul Patle, Claudia Velastegui Cobo and Nemanja Vuksanovic, spent two days presenting, observing and problem-solving.            

This year 300 universities, 75 countries and 1,000 students were involved in the conference, each with a unique idea to make the world a better place. Ideas, or commitments as the initiative refers to them, included environment and climate change, education, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation and public health.            

Out of the 1,000 students at the conference, 200 students focused on women's empowerment and among those 200 students, only 20 were selected as champions. From the champions, two were selected to share their commitments and stories on stage. Paigaam's commitment was selected as a winner and Rahul Patle, Luther junior, was selected to represent Paigaam on stage.            

Paigaam, a peace initiative non-profit organization, presented a commitment on "PadUcation." Many girls and young women in developing countries do not have access to sanitary pads, causing them to miss school or drop out altogether. Because this is such a crucial time in education, Paigaam decided to focus its central theme around it.            

The organization's main goals are youth empowerment, women's empowerment and peace education and they live by their motto, "transform thinking, transform lives."                                                                                                   

In addition to presenting at the conference, Luther got involved in "PadUcation," by collecting extra supplies of sanitary pads from fellow Luther students. After collecting the material, the group fundraised for the shipping costs and sent them to their collaborator in Uganda at St. Jude Junior School and Chain of Hope, Agness Igoye.

The conference began with a warm welcome from President Bill Clinton's daughter, Chelsea Clinton on Friday night with opening plenary to follow given by President Clinton.                     

Saturday's events focused on the topic, "A Better Future for Girls and Women" and was moderated by Chelsea Clinton. Along with her team, Chelsea emphasized their passion for bringing awareness to women's empowerment. There were also skill and work sessions available for participants on Saturday.

On Sunday, Clinton Global Initiative University hosted a community service event. For three hours, volunteers worked on a number of restorative projects and facility updates around Gateway STEM High School. Projects included: painting, carpeting, grounds maintenance, storage clean out and garden construction.