“Leadership is about figuring out what you believe, and then having the courage to act on it.” - Professor Robert Kaplan, Harvard University, September 17, 2011
This, in one sentence, is why I applied for the Show Me Fellowship from John Legend last summer. I believe in something, and I have the courage to act on it.
I believe that global poverty is one of the most pressing social injustices of our time, if not the most pressing injustice. And I believe that right now — not tomorrow, or next week, or next year — I can make a tangible contribution to the fight against global poverty. And above all, I believe that every student, at every college and university around the globe, can join me.
That’s why, with the help of John Legend’s Show Me Fellowship, I brought more than 1,000 students, from across the United States and around the world, to the 2011 Millennium Campus Conference (MCC 2011). For three days, at Harvard University, my fellow students and I participated in keynote lectures, panel discussions, workshops, and a career fair, along with dozens of global leaders in the fight against global poverty.
My fellow conference-goers got to hear from people like Jason Russell, the filmmaker and co-Founder of Invisible Children, a global movement to bring an end one of the world’s longest-running conflicts: the Lord’s Resistance Army’s war in Uganda. Students also got to hear from K’naan, the musician and activist working to end the ongoing hunger and insecurity in Somalia. They got to work with senior professionals in workshops to improve crucial skills like advocacy, fundraising, and creating overseas partnerships. And at the end of the weekend, the students were presented with actionable, immediate ways to get involved in ending global poverty, at a career and internship fair.
But perhaps most importantly, MCC 2011 attendees were inspired. They learned, as I did at an earlier MCC, that “leadership is about figuring out what you believe, and then having the courage to act on it,” as Professor Robert Kaplan told them.
I sincerely hope that MCC attendees will do just that — act on their convictions. And I hope to see them at future events, at partner non-profits like Partners in Health, or perhaps on the ground, overseas, where they are beginning to make a difference in the world’s poorest communities.