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Dejah Powell ’18, center, speaks at a plenary session of the Clinton Global Initiative University on “Expanding Civic Engagement.”

Cornell students honored at Clinton Global Initiative University

From left, Danindu Udalamaththa, MA ’19, Imani Majied ’19, Kiyan Rajabi, MS ’18, Ghali Jorio ’21, Annie Hughey ’18, Christine Amenechi ’19, Naviya Kothari ’20, Rahul Mukherjee ’20, Saloni Verma, M.Eng ’18, and Winice Hui ’21 at the Clinton Global Initiative University conference.

Twelve students and recent alumni from Cornell attended the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU), Oct. 19-21 in Chicago.

“I had the opportunity to connect with people all over the world tackling various public health issues and many others,” said Saloni Verma, M.Eng. ’18, whose project focuses on documenting memory loss in older adults and developing tools to prevent memory loss in younger people. “All the delegates and keynote speakers had one thing in common – they wanted to make the world a better place, as cliché as it sounds, but it is true.”

Verma plans to share her research with others dedicated to the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, which is projected to affect 16 million Americans by 2050.

Dejah Powell ’18 was one of five delegates, selected from more than 1,200, to be honored at a plenary session on “Expanding Civic Engagement.”

Powell, from Chicago, started a project called HEAL: Health, Engaged Activism and Learning, to address the problem of access to healthy food and poor school quality in some Chicago communities. The organization partners with schools to create garden clubs that grow produce and help students learn about social justice, food accessibility, health, crime, problem-solving and activism.

Cornell students Jannie Li ’20 and Emily Wang ’20 were also selected to participate in a codathon the day before the conference. Working in conjunction with IBM, the codathon focused on developing faster responses to natural disasters.

Hosted by former President Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton, the 11th annual CGIU meeting included student leaders from more than 100 countries representing more than 300 colleges and universities.

“A common trait among all the student delegates is their refusal to accept the status quo,” said Debra Eichten, Cornell’s staff liaison with the Clinton Foundation. “Their Commitments to Action not only address pressing challenges to education, public health, poverty alleviation, climate change, peace and human rights – these students demonstrate the power to make constructive changes when people from diverse backgrounds unify around common goals.”

On the heels of the conference, the students are participating in a crowdfunding project to help fund student travel to conferences, pitch competitions and meetings with venture capitalists in Silicon Valley. The campaign, “Fuel Entrepreneurship Pursuits,” will run Nov. 1-30 on the Cornell crowdfunding website.

Kathy Hovis is a staff writer for the College of Arts and Sciences.

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