This past weekend in St. Louis, Missouri, I experienced the inspiring words of global leaders such as Mr. William J. Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, Jack Dorsey, Steven Colbert, and Muhammad Yunus. But even more importantly, I immersed myself in their advice while sitting alongside over 1,000 students from all 50 states and over 70 countries. Reflecting on the weekend, here are some of the key lessons that I took away –
Mr. Clinton told us that “the saddest people are not those who fail; the saddest people are those who do not chase their dreams.” I plan to never stop pursuing only what energizes me. I look forward to working hard on bridging the achievement gap and inspiring a lifelong love for learning through my work with CompassPoint Mentorship.
In the past three years at UC Berkeley and Cornell, I have learned a lot about myself through the experience of transferring schools and the challenges, successes, and failures along the way. However, I must admit that my experience at CGIU 2013 has been unlike any other. Shortly after arriving at Lambert International in St. Louis, I found myself talking with other attendees about issues they were tackling, from poverty alleviation in Kenya to post-hurricane community reconstruction in the mid-west U.S. When Kavya and I hopped on the bus to our hotel, I started to think about my decision to spend my 21st birthday halfway across the country with over 1000 strangers from all over the world—it would be a birthday I would never forget.
Shortly after arriving at the hotel, I met my first two individuals of the entire 1000+ as they pleasantly introduced themselves during check in. That evening, I had already met close to over 40 people—I don’t remember the last time I was in a situation when complete strangers were so willing to step outside their comfort zone (and that’s factoring in my first week of college at Berkeley). For example, I met two girls across the hall from Rice University who founded a program called PAIR, which was a partnership for the advancement and immersion of child refugees. Another student I met from American University created an organization to combat food waste in the U.S. and Africa. Throughout the conference, it was both humbling and inspiring to meet students from as far as Greece and Libya to as close as Missouri and Indiana who were passionately working on global issues facing their communities.
The opening night panel with President Clinton, Jack Dorsey (CEO, Twitter), and Zainab Salbi (Founder, Women for Women International) was one my conference highlights. Listening to Zainab speak about the innumerable obstacles she faced in starting Women for Women, to Jack about his insatiable curiosity as a child and goal to allow the instantaneous dissemination of information worldwide with Twitter, and to Bill about staying resilient and learning from failure all inspired me to reflect on these past 21 years. I’m not sure where life will take me after college, but one piece of advice from Water.org co-founder Gary White that particularly resonated with me was to “find the intersection between the world’s greatest need and your greatest passion.”
I am so honored to have been a part of the CompassPoint team at the Clinton Global Initiative University. We got to hear from amazing speakers at the plenary sessions (with daily appearances from Bill and Chelsea Clinton) and interact personally with students making a difference across the globe.
What I learned the most was from seeing what people believed in, and what they did with that belief. I loved seeing what kept people going, what drove people. My key takeaway points were:
I am grateful to have these experiences to encourage me when I will someday need them most. I was made more aware of so many problems, but I was made even more aware of the power of human creativity to overcome them. I look forward to sharing these experiences with others and letting them show through my work with CompassPoint Mentorship.
Last weekend, members of the CompassPoint team spent a fruitful day in St. Louis, Missouri for the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) conference. We were honored that CompassPoint Mentorship had been accepted and recognized as a participant and took advantage of the opportunity to learn from like-minded young adults and inspiring figures.
Given that the CPM team is spread out nationally, it was nice to finally spend some time with each other. We celebrated David’s 21st birthday (lots of appreciation to him for spending his 21st with the team at a conference) the night that we landed. On Saturday I had the unique experience of hearing President Clinton and Stephen Colbert playfully joke around with each other before Colbert shrugged off his comic character and delved into more serious topics regarding global challenges, US politics and personal moral responsibilities. On Sunday, we worked on a day-long service project at a local St. Louis high school doing things like painting the rooms, cutting down invasive plants and moving school supplies around.
I loved meeting a variety of brilliant, passionate and high-energy doers from whom I believe we can learn. We all spoke with students and representatives from a variety of educational service organizations, from peer-tutoring and mentoring, to organizations empowering girls with the confidence to pursue STEM fields. Listening to the stories and challenges facing these organizations, I was awed by the amount of perseverance each team possessed in trying to bring their visions to fruition.
These encounters inspire me to aim higher with my ambitions. I am really glad that the people I interacted with felt a personal connection to some injustice in the world, and took concrete actions to fix them. Whether these issues were ones they’ve personally been affected by or ones that their community is affected by, it was clear to me that these young students were seeking to make the world a better place.
Take a look at our featured Mentee/Mentor pair!
From left to right: Willa Zhou, Carl Shan, Luke Segars, Deborah Ward, Gail Davidson, Kristin Stephens
“Get good grades, get into a prestigious college, and you’ll live a happy life.” Is that really the path to success? On Thursday, November 15, CompassPoint Mentorship held a panel event, “Challenging Conventional Notions of Success” with three inspirational guest speakers who have taken unconventional paths throughout life.
Willa Zhou: Recent Harvard graduate. Founder of The Movement, an organization that brings movement back into people’s lives in fun and accessible ways. Took 1 year off from Harvard to pursue other ventures.
Kristin Stephens: Current CS Masters student at UC Berkeley. Took 2 years off after high school before attending college.
Luke Segars: Current Product Manager at Google. Masters in Computer Science from UC Berkeley.
We had over 160 people, both students and parents, in attendance at our event! Willa, Kristin, and Luke answered a large spectrum of questions, covering everything from how they got to where they are in life to how their behavior when they were teens. Overall, the audience was eager to hear more and received some valuable advice in the process.
Here are a few pictures from our event!
This guest blog post comes from Kion Nemati.
Kion is a Cupertino High School Alum. He went on to study Construction Management at Cal Poly SLO and just completed his second year there. At Cal Poly he was the youngest member representing Cal Poly at the ASCS National Construction Management Competition which led to his current internship for Turner Construction Company (the company that is currently building the new 49rs stadium and is the largest commercial construction company in the US). At Turner he assists in the estimating of various projects in Turner’s Special Project Division.
Kion is also a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Associate and is currently amassing the experience necessary to become a LEED Accredited Professional. He also held an internship last summer for Ghilotti Brother’s Construction. Lastly, apart from buildings he loves education and believes that mentoring is an extremely powerful tool for impacting people in need of guidance.
This guest blog post is by Karim Abouelnaga.
Karim is a student, speaker and social entrepreneur. He is the founder of Practice Makes Perfect, Inc., a nonprofit that works to narrow the achievement gap by providing low-income students with mentorship and resources that are beyond the reach of their inner-city public schools. With the support and guidance from mentors, Karim has won over $300,000 in scholarships and awards to make his studies at Cornell University possible. In addition to being immersed in student life, he is a Cornell Presidential Research Scholar and focuses his time examining the implications of financial incentives on academic performance. As a speaker for the LIFE foundation, Karim continues to speak to thousands of life insurance executives and financial advisers all across the US motivating them to expand their reach.
Karim has held internships on political campaigns and in financial services. He recently received the 2012 Newman Civic Award and was recognized as a 2011 Pearson Prize National Fellow for his commitment to public service. In his spare time, Karim enjoys mentoring, playing sports, and engaging in political discussions.
Photo from New Paltz University
Research conducted on mentoring programs consistently demonstrate the existence of a positive relationship between being mentored and later success in life. But what about research regarding being a Mentor? Can helping nurture another individual’s development also prove to benefit the Mentor?
Evidence unequivocally affirms that it can.
Our fifth mentor spotlight focuses on one of Poolesville’s Branch Mentors — Pranav Gokhale.
Pranav Gokhale is a CompassPoint Mentor and a freshman at Princeton University. A lifelong resident of Montgomery County, Maryland, he graduated from Poolesville High School’s Science/Math/Computer Science Program in 2011. In high school, he served as captain of the Computer Team, Investment Club, Debate Team, Physics Club/Science Bowl Team, and Varsity Tennis Team. Among his accomplishments, he scored a 2400 on the SAT in his first sitting and earned perfect scores on all of his SAT Subject and AP tests as well. Pranav was also selected as a National Merit Scholarship Recipient, Intel Science Talent Search Semifinalist, National AP Scholar, and Maryland Distinguished Scholar.
At Princeton, Pranav has not picked a specific major, but he is enrolled in the engineering school. Outside of engineering, his academic interests include Computer Science, Economics, Philosophy, and Physics. Pranav enjoys playing sports, reading, watching TV/movies, and listening to music, as well as more recent hobbies like Yoga. While Pranav is undecided on a career path, he hopes to apply his interests to a field that makes a difference.