April 12, 2011
Camila Moreno ’14, a communication major who wants to provide inexpensive dance lessons to children with Down syndrome both in Tampa and her native Ecuador, said she enjoyed meeting other students from around the world.
Having lunch with former President Bill Clinton was a special moment for
Christine Merry ’11. So was volunteering at a California food bank
shoulder-to-shoulder with actresses Mandy Moore and Drew Barrymore.
But the highlight for Merry, who attended the 2011
Clinton Global Initiative University
held in San Diego the first week of April, was identifying with another
young social entrepreneur who created a soccer ball that generates and
stores electricity. After game play, cell phones and LED flashlights can
be plugged into co-founder Jessica Matthews’ sOccket ball, providing a
cheap and accessible source of electricity for developing communities.
reminds me a lot of myself,” said Merry, a management and finance
double major. “She didn’t know how to build her idea, like me with my
windmills, but she found the right people to make it happen.”
plans to construct windmills in Ghana, providing an inexpensive source
of electricity for charging cell phones. Villagers now pay high fees to
people who own cars so that they can charge their electronics with their
Merry is taking Kevin Fridy’s Community-Based
Development Projects in Ghana course this semester, which culminates in a
three-week trip to Ghana in May, when she hopes to introduce her
prototype and build one permanent windmill with all local supplies. She
hopes the project will be sustainable, and she plans to teach others how
to construct their own windmills.
This commitment to action is
one of the outcomes of the four-day conference, an offshoot of the
Clinton Global Initiative. Merry’s experience at the Clinton Global
Initiative University included lots of networking and inspiration from
the other 1,100 presenters and attendees who represented 90 countries.
lot the people there were like the next Facebook people,” said Merry, a
PEACE volunteer coordinator and a Student Government senator. “I don’t
think I’m one of those, but in my own way I’d like to be able to reach
out to other African countries if my Ghana trip goes well.”
University of Tampa was represented well at the conference with not one
but two participants chosen from thousands of applicants. Joining Merry
was Camila Moreno ’14, a communication major who wants to provide
inexpensive dance lessons to children with Down syndrome both in Tampa
and her native Ecuador.
“For me, dancing makes me really happy.
It’s a meditation, and it takes out my energy,” said Moreno who
volunteered with the Best Buddies program in high school, becoming a
mentor to Claudia, a young woman with Down syndrome. “I want to provide a
space for children to be really happy and proud of themselves, to work
on patience and to be a support for them.”
Through her research
Moreno found that dancing can help increase coordination and develop
thinking skills. Her time at the Clinton Global Initiative University
inspired her, just as she hopes to inspire children.
“The conference motivated me even more,” Moreno said. “Everyone was so encouraging and positive that anything is possible.”
Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
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