In yet another eye-opening experience, third-year law student Tricia Robinson represented Miami Law for the third time at the Clinton Global Initiative University Conference, held this year in St. Louis. She attended sessions on human trafficking, child exploitation and clean water, and came away inspired.
"I connected with professionals, attorneys and students from all across the globe who are dedicated to being the change they want to see in the world," said Robinson, a Miami Scholar who interned last summer at the Pentagon, in the Navy's Office of General Counsel. "Being surrounded by people who are not just participating in the conversation but in the actual solutions is both inspiring and humbling. The world's youth are coming up with ideas to solve problems in areas of critical need, and CGI U provides the mentorship and support to turn those ideas into thriving realities."
The Clinton Global Initiative University Conference was held at Washington University on April 5-7. This year's CGI U focused on five areas: education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health. Robinson attended a number of panels, including "A Better Future for Girls and Women: Empowering the Next Generation"; "Billions of Drops in the Bucket: Engaging Women in Water Solutions"; "Solutions Without Borders: Working with Unlikely Allies"; and "Modern-Day Slavery: How Do We End Human Trafficking?" as well as a conversation between faux-news comedian Steven Colbert and former President Bill Clinton. She also participated in discussions with Olimar Maisonet-Guzman, a policy coordinator in water, energy access and sustainable development for SustainUS, and with John Richmond, Special Litigation Counsel in the Human Trafficking Persecution Unit at the U.S. Department of Justice.
Founded by former President Clinton in 2007, the CGI U is charged with engaging the next generation of leaders on college campuses around the world. In order to attend the event, students must take concrete steps to solve pressing issues in their community or around the world. The sixth annual meeting brought together student leaders, NGO representatives, topic experts and celebrities to brainstorm ideas, share best practices and develop action plans for the months and years ahead. This year's speakers included Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and Square; the actress Jada Pinkett Smith, an advocate of the "Don't Sell Bodies" campaign; and Muhammad Yunus, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and Founder of Grameen Bank in Bangladesh.
Selected CGI U attendees were given project funding. The Resolution Project provided $100,000 to the winners of a social venture competition, and the CGI University Network provided more than $300,000 total to student attendees from member universities.
Building on the successful model of the Clinton Global Initiative, the CGI U gathering helps students and youth organizations create innovative solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges. Since its inaugural meeting, CGI U has brought together more than 4,500 students from nearly 750 schools and more than 130 countries.
"For me personally, I connected with students and professionals in my fields of interest – water conservation and human trafficking – and expanded my network in ways I never expected," Robinson said. "I had true dialogues with people like Jada Pinkett Smith, who is passionate about adding her voice to those oppressed by modern-day slavery. I listened and learned, and as always, I was amazed. Enough cannot be said about the opportunities that CGI U has opened for me, and I look forward in giving back someday as a mentor and panelist."