The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News



Got an idea? A concern? A problem? Let The Huntington News know:

Clinton Global Initiative University continues with speeches, workshops


By Morgan Lloyd, news correspondent

Northeastern’s campus was crowded Saturday with more than 1,100 well-dressed college students from across the world as the university hosted the second day of the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U). The event was hosted by the Clinton Foundation, and dedicated to bringing together innovative college students to discuss global problems.

Saturday’s events included speeches from former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun.  

“It is an incredible group of people who are here today,” Northeastern law professor Rachel Rosenbloom said. Out of more than 1,000 students chosen to attend, approximately 150 were from Northeastern.

Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation hosted the first CGI U meeting 10 years ago to help students make commitments to action in five key areas: education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation and public health. Students were selected for the event after pitching what the CGI U referred to as their commitment, a project relating to one of these five areas. The Clinton Foundation will provide over $750,000 worth of funding to the 2017 CGI U attendees.

Rosenbloom moderated the morning’s first session, a discussion on creating opportunity for migrants and immigrants. David Miliband, the president and CEO of the humanitarian aid organization International Rescue Committee, and Sarahi Espinoza Salamanca, the founder of a scholarship app for undocumented immigrants called DREAMer’s RoadMap, joined Albright on the panel.

“What’s the truth about the modern world? It’s that the world is more connected than ever before, but the great danger is that we’re consumed by the divisions between us,” Miliband said.

At the end of the seminar, Rosenbloom announced the Northeastern School of Law would be opening its doors to the Immigrant Justice Clinic in order to provide asylum seekers and immigrants with legal representation.

Following this discussion, the students broke off into smaller groups, including one led by Rebecca Riccio, director of the Social Impact Lab at Northeastern. There, students focused on the successful implementation of their commitments, looking at topics such as gathering data and reaching a large audience.

“People are asking the right questions,” Riccio said. “To me, having all these students here challenging each other to be thoughtful now, to ask the hard questions now, to do the work of learning now, is so exciting.”

There was a wide range of ideas represented at the CGI U and plans in various stages of development. Some students were just getting started with their projects, but some, like fifth-year mechanical engineering major Tuan Ho, were further along in the process. Ho’s company, ScholarJet, seeks to change the ways that students can get scholarships for college, promoting scholarships that focus on demonstrating skill or creativity, such as technical challenges or poetry contests.

“Scholarships today focus on essay writing and not talent or skill,” Ho said. “We work with companies to create action-based scholarships.”

After lunch, where students swapped business cards and traded ideas, the group reconvened for the second main session of the day. To begin this session Bill Clinton invited up CGI U alumni who had achieved great success with their commitments, honoring them with the first ever Clinton Global Initiative University Honor Roll.

“Our alumni have made remarkable commitments over the years that are genuinely changing lives,” Clinton said.

Following this ceremony, Chelsea Clinton hosted two different panels to discuss the issues of building a sustainable future and combating the opioid crisis.

The second round of breakout sessions included one hosted by Aoun, where participants discussed the future of higher education in a rapidly-changing technological environment. Aoun and his colleagues D’Wayne Edwards, founder of Pensole Footwear Design Academy; Andrew McAfee, a principal research scientist at MIT and Gerald Chertavian, the founder and CEO of Year Up, did not hold back with their critiques of the education industry.

“Higher education is very conservative,” Aoun said. “It wants to change the world, but it doesn’t want to change itself.”

The day closed with another session in Matthews Arena, with Bill and Chelsea Clinton giving remarks. The CGI U is set to pick up again tomorrow with the Day of Action, where the students participating will volunteer at local Boston organizations.

“Every young person needs to make a commitment,” Bill Clinton said.

More to Discover