Campus Initiative Summit unites campus leaders around the world

DUBUQUE — This past weekend, three UNICEF at Loras members, senior advisor Lina Rodriguez, treasurer Catalina Santacruz and graphic Designer Juanita Bustamante attended the annual UNICEF Campus Initiative Summit in Boca Raton, FL. They were three members of 200 UNICEF students from colleges and universities from across the country that joined together in order to share ideas and tactics for furthering the work of UNICEF back on their own campuses.

While at the Summit, the students were able to attend UNICEF workshops and panel discussions. They were also able to review resources and the direction of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF Campus Initiative.

“The conference taught me that my dreams matter and that it only takes one person to make a difference, so now is the right time to start working for what I believe in, and my start with UNICEF at Loras is the first step to help children and see the change I want to see in my community and in the world,” Santacruz said.

The Summit collaborated with the Millennium Campus Network Conference to put on the event. The total effort brought together student leaders and representatives from more than 50 nations, 180 universities and colleges, and 100 NGOs and companies. They interacted for three days to discuss the fight against poverty, the United Nations’ 2015 agenda, and to celebrate the International Day of the Girl.

The UNICEF at Loras representatives took part in the UNICEF Campus Initiative agenda on Friday, Oct. 10, and then rejoined the larger MCC group for the remaining two days.

On Saturday, the students had the opportunity to listen to keynote speakers and 2014 Global Generation Award winners Nicholas Kristof (journalist and author), Julie Lewis (founder of the 30/30 project), Kristin Davis (actress, most well-known for her role on “Sex and the City”) and Caryl Stern (President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF). Other speakers included Jonathan Clyde (Apple Records and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF), Cara E. Yar Khan (who has worked with UNICEF around the world as a resource mobilization specialist), Mischa Barton (actress), Carrie Hessler-Radelet (president of the Peace Corps), and Dr. Louise Iveser (Partners in Health).

That day also included debates about working in the global environment, a Change-the-World Fair that connected students to nonprofit organizations, graduate schools, businesses, social ventures, etc., an experiential learning session, social time, and a book-signing by Kristof and Stern.

Sunday consisted of a mass networking session with more than 1,000 people, giving students the opportunity to meet other students, community and business leaders, and still others who are focused on humanitarian efforts. This was followed by the closing ceremonies and the conclusion of the Summit.

“This year, the Summit was truly life-changing. It is an honor to be part of a group of passionate student leaders who work toward the same goal. Being in a room full of energy, ideas and knowledge encourages us to keep working toward becoming global citizens and improving the conditions in which children live around the world,” Rodriguez commented.

This annual conference has become a staple for the UNICEF at Loras members to attend, as it provides such an enriching opportunity for networking with other UNICEF chapters from schools all across the world. In turn, the representatives from Loras bring back valuable new ideas and insights to apply here. Although typically it is the UNICEF at Loras e-Board members attending this conference, the opportunity is open to any member of the club.
Applications for next year’s Summit will most likely be available in the late spring or early summer, and interested students can apply online for a spot as spaces are limited, or go to any UNICEF at Loras leader to make inquiries about this opportunity.

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