Opportunities Fund Supports Student Leadership Projects

Opportunities Fund Supports Student Leadership Projects

For School of Education and Social Policy undergraduates who want to lead extracurricular projects, the SESP Opportunities Fund can help them make a difference. This spring several leadership events — a new Northwestern TEDx event, panel discussions with civically engaged alumni, a global leadership summit and more — are being supported by the fund, which is intended to encourage undergraduate innovation and service.

TEDx Event
SESP junior Nikita Ramanujam organized the first TEDx event at Northwestern with the help of the SESP Opportunities Fund. “I decided to bring TEDx to Northwestern because I found myself constantly amazed and inspired by the ideas of my fellow classmates and professors and wanted to create a platform for them to be heard,” says Ramanujam, the founder and co-director of TEDx NorthwesternU.

The inaugural TEDx event on April 12 highlighted the innovative ideas of the Northwestern University community with “genius talks” from four faculty members, four students and four alumni. The theme is “Crossing Paths,” and each of three sessions featured an alumnus, student, and faculty member speaking on a topic related to the theme. Videos from the event can be accessed on ted.com.

Roel Vivit

Civically Engaged Alumni Roundtables
The Opportunities Fund is also helping SESP seniors Tade Mengesha and Josh Parish, who are fellows at the Center for Civic Engagement, to stage this year's Civically Engaged Alumni Roundtables. This discussion event on April 8 featured alumni having “small group conversations with students about ways to pursue and cultivate civically engaged careers and meaningful lives in a wide variety of fields and disciplines,” according to Mengesha and Parish.

SESP sponsored sessions on education/youth and nonprofit/government/advocacy. SESP alumni on the panels included El Da'Sheon Nix (BS04) and Melanie Kahl (BS08). Panels for both undergraduate and graduate students enable exploration of meaningful careers and networking with alumni working to serve the public good.

Global Engagement Summit
Another leadership event that the SESP Opportunities Fund is supporting is the Global Engagement Summit from April 16 to 20, which draws delegates from around the world. The purpose of this conference is to develop the global change leaders for creating sustainable solutions around the world.

SESP senior Nicholas Kazvini-Gore, who is co-chair of Global Engagement Summit, received an Opportunities Fund grant to assist with planning, recruitment and curriculum development for the Summit as a Northwestern initiative to develop leadership for solving global problems. Kazvini-Gore, co-chair Danya Sherbini and their leadership team also planned GES Day on March 1 as a leadership training forum for Northwestern students.

Stacy Kim

Iberoamerican Leadership Conference
The Student Opportunities Fund also allows undergraduates to travel to conferences nationally and even internationally. For example, sophomore Stacy Kim was able to travel to the Iberoamerican Leadership Congress 2014 in Mexico City with support from the Opportunities Fund. “This conference joins more than 300 people to share ideas on sustainable development, leadership, organizational culture, and current world issues,” says Kim.

Kim attended from March 27 to April 2 as vice president of talent management for AIESEC Northwestern and as a representative of AIESEC United States. AIESEC Northwestern offers students opportunities for global leadership.

The Opportunities Fund was established in 2009 through contributions from alumni and friends who wanted to support the academic and community endeavors of SESP undergraduates. Last year the fund brought speakers to conferences on nonprofit leadership and global health, allowed students to attend conferences, and helped students initiate events on education reform, mentoring and volunteering.

Photo: SESP alumnus Roel Vivit (MS05, center), founder of a Chicago charter school, participates in a Civically Engaged Alumni Roundtable in 2013.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 4/15/14