Ian Benson

Features Editor

On the weekend of March 30, Lauren Grimanis ’12, Elizabeth Plumley ’13 and Erica Kay ’13 attended the Clinton Global Initiative University, a conference of over 1,000 college students from around the country. The purpose of the conference was to bring together students who participate in individual, non-profit commitments and give them a chance to network.

Grimanis, Plumley and Kay were there to represent the Akaa Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting a village in Ghana. Grimanis founded the project and Plumley and Kay have been assisting with it for two and a half years. During that time, Plumley has been to Ghana twice, while Grimanis has been to Ghana a total of five times, all through the Akaa Project. This was Plumley and Kay’s first time attending the conference, but was Grimanis’s fourth time.

The conference included panels from such varied speakers as President Clinton, his daughter Chelsea, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone and Usher, who contributes in a variety of non-profit organizations. Students were able to use Twitter to share resources or tweet questions to the panel speakers. At one point, a student tweeted a question to Usher, asking him about the future of non-profit organizations but told him he had to sing the answer.

“It was really cool and a great experience. Everyone had business cards and we were exchanging information to help each other with their projects and just spread the message and purpose of the various projects represented there,” Plumley said.

“The panels were a great boost because the speakers explained how they felt about the importance of our generation and activism. We’re more connected then we ever have been and that allows us to participate in ways that people haven’t been able to before,” Plumley explained. The speakers also stressed the importance of using communication tools such as Facebook, Twitter and email to get connected with one another to help their causes.

“The biggest thing I took away from the whole Clinton Global Initiative University is that it’s not too young to start, and that we do not need to be afraid of failure. Just because we’re students doesn’t mean we can’t do something. If we don’t succeed at first it does not mean that we are doomed to fail,” said Plumley. “Hopefully I’ll get to return to the conference next year with Erica and we can represent the Akaa Project once again.”