Chad Fraga '14 (left) and Naveed Ahmed '13 (right) hold their award plaques in this pose with the Chairman of the Resolution Project (center). The Resolution Project helped fund the challenge, which awarded the fellowship Fraga and Ahmed received for their commitment to mentor at-risk high school students in Stockton.
Pacific Students Receive Inaugural Fellowship at Clinton Global Initiative ConferenceFor 10 Pacific students, attending the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative-University conference in St. Louis earlier this month was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. For fellowship winners Naveed Ahmed ’13 and Chad Fraga ’14, it was also a defining moment.
Not only was this their first experience attending an international conference of this magnitude, it was their first trip out of California and their first airplane flight. Adding to their firsts, Ahmed and Fraga won the Resolution Challenge, an inaugural competition to help student's carry out their commitments to make a positive difference on their campus, in their community or in the world. Through a series of presentations before successive panels of judges, the proposals are narrowed down to the chosen few.
|Fraga at the podium. The students were required to present their proposals before several panels of judges and undergo rigorous scrutiny during the selection process.|
"We were completely shocked," recalled Fraga. "We could not believe we had won! Winning this challenge is a great stepping stone in my educational process. It means that I can do anything I put my mind to, and that I truly do have a place in the social entrepreneurship field."
Out of more than 1,200 participants at the conference, only 17 fellowships were awarded by the Resolution Challenge. The fellowship will provide an initial grant of $3,000 and other forms of support over a two-year period to help carry them out their commitment: "A New Initiative to Work with At-Risk Students in Stockton."
Their program, called "Tigers Giving Back," pairs Pacific students with at-risk high-school students to serve as mentors to motivate the youth to lead more productive lives. Stockton-born Ahmed and Fraga, a native of Tracy, will work on strategy this summer and launch the program in fall 2013 with a small group of students at Cesar Chavez High School in Stockton, where Ahmed attended high school. Both Ahmed and Fraga are majoring in sociology in the College of the Pacific
"My partner Chad and I volunteered as mentors at another Stockton high school for about 13 weeks earlier this year," says Ahmed. "The program went well, but we wanted to get more experience and develop something sustainable that could be expanded to other schools and that would offer additional community outreach opportunities for Pacific students."
Pacific and CGI U
This was the fifth year that University of the Pacific took a delegation to the Clinton Global Initiative University conference, held this year at Washington University in St. Louis. The program was introduced to Pacific by Regent Ron Cordes and is coordinated by the Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship.
"Being able to see so many students from more than 70 different countries and seeing all the passion and work they put into making this world a better place made a huge impact for me," says Fraga. "I have never seen so many motivated people ready to take on the world's biggest challenges in such a supportive, positive, and motivating atmosphere."
Faculty advisors accompanying the students were Joanna Royce Davis, dean of students, and Peg Ciccolella, a professor in Health, Exercise and Sport Sciences. Other Pacific delegates to the 2013 CGIU were: Geori Berman '13, Education; Afghan exchange student Mustafa Babak '14, Communication; Devon Guidoux '14, Education; Daniel Episcope '14, International Studies; Kate Casey '15, Law; Justine Tang '14, Physics/Astronomy; Eric Luke '13, Education; and Connie Xu '14, Communication.
Cordes, who is also on the board of the Clinton Global Initiative and the Global Center Board of Stakeholders, provided the funding that enabled Pacific students to attend CGI U.
"His support has made it possible for Pacific to have the largest delegation of any University attending," says Jerry Hildebrand, director of Pacific's Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship. Hildebrand coordinates Pacific's CGI U delegation and works with students to develop their resolutions, which are thoroughly vetted, reviewed and refined at Pacific before being submitted to CGI U.
"Jerry Hildebrand had a big impact on our accomplishment," says Fraga. "He spent many hours working with us on our project proposal. Also some of the students who had gone to CGI U in the past, such as Mustafa Babak '14, played a big role in helping us shape our commitment and helping us understand what the conference would be like."
Update May 9, 2013: Ahmed and Fraga were awarded Citations of Merit by the Mayor of Stockton at the City Council meeting on May 7 in recognition of their CGIU Resolution Challenge award. They had the opportunity to introduce their "Tigers Giving Back" proposal to more than 100 community members in attendance.