Fresno State students looking to solve problems on a local or worldwide scale can now participate in the Clinton Global Initiative University program, a project designed to engage the next generation of leaders across college campuses.
CGI University was developed seven years ago in wake of the Clinton Global Initiative, a program established by former president Bill Clinton that brings together worldwide leaders to take action on global challenges.
Timothy Stearns, executive director of Fresno State’s Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, said the purpose of the university involvement is recognizing the need and opportunity for students to be engaged in social entrepreneurship. It also connects Fresno State to a large group of universities who also participate, he said.
CGI University gathers selected applicants from different universities once a year to help develop commitments to action with five major categories in focus: education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation and public health.
In March, Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton will host CGI University 2015 at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. Students, university representatives, topic experts and celebrities will discuss and offer their help to pioneer sustainable solutions to pressing global demands.
Stearns said the gathering gives the university a chance to be identified and engaged at the national level.
“I think it gives us a lot of stature in ways that people, who may have little understanding of Fresno State, will now see us as a major player on a national stage, and I think it is always important when the university can do that,” Stearns said.
The students develop commitments that specifically address pressing challenges on campus, in local communities or places around the world. The projects vary in size and can be monetary or nonfinancial in nature.
Nelson Sebra, the entrepreneur in residence at the Lyles Center, said the program is an important opportunity for students to act on thier ideas.
“With the assistance of this program, and some of the counseling, they can help materialize some of these ideas for a social benefit,” Sebra said.
Students interested in the initiative can download an application online and schedule a consultation meeting with Sebra. From there, the university can potentially fund students’ projects.
“It can be a small amount for a small project or help launch a larger project,” Sebra said. “We are just hoping students take advantage of the opportunity to engage in the process.”
Fresno State student Shervin Zoghi, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering and economics, was selected to attend the CGI University event last year at the University of Arizona.
“Networking was wonderful, so I got business cards from quite a few people, and I’m still in contact with quite a few people,” Zoghi said. “It was really motivational to see all those kids trying to make a difference and so it really motivated me and some of the other kids who are part of the group I’m working with to try to make a difference.”