By Tribune Staff
March 3 rd thru 5 th saw President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, and Chelsea Clinton bring Clinton Global Initiative University to Vanderbilt. The weekend featured student-led projects created to better their community with multiple Vanderbilt students taking part in the event.
President Clinton opened the event stating, “our differences are profoundly important but they only really work when our common humanity matters more.” According to Secretary Clinton noted CGI-U discussed major issues facing the global community including climate change, health equity, education, and reproductive rights. The event featured also featured remarks from Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, and a panel with Vanderbilt students moderated by Chelsea Clinton.
Secretary Clinton noted during her conversation at CGI-U that young people hold the balance of power in the United States, and globally, but it often goes unused because of “distractions, worries and wonders” during their early life. Secretary Buttigieg, as the first openly-gay member of any cabinet, showed the power that young people can have in impacting change in their local and global community.
One student-led group featured three members of Vanderbilt’s class of 2024, Noah Ford,
Amaris-Lynn Joulbert and Induja Kumar. Their project, entitled “Labs Behind Bars” focused on student-designed STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) labs that can be used in Nashville prisons for continuing education.
Joulbert, echoed by Ford, noted that CGI-U was an excellent networking experience, allowed them to engage with their peers, create new connections, and have their project reviewed in order to better it before it launches. They noted the importance of their project in decreasing the preschool-to-prison pipeline. They found that “90% of schools serving Black and Latinx students had trouble retaining STEM teachers.”
According to Joulbert and Ford, the project, designed to be utilized in Riverbend Maximum
Security Prison, focused on the lack of STEM related continuing education for those currently incarcerated (insiders.) They noted that insiders have little access to education, and few opportunities when they are released from prison. STEM related fields are often high paid positions, and the lack of access creates an unequal playing field for Black and Latino people when leaving prison.
Ford, Joulbert, and Kumar left CGI-U ready to actualize their project and bring it to Riverbend Maximum Security Prison. They noted that they were currently in talks with the Tennessee Department of Corrections to bring this crucial program to Riverbend. The eventual goal of the project is to expand locally and nationally to bring vital STEM education, to those who are too often left to languish with few opportunities with they are released.
If you would like to learn more about CGI-U you can visit https://www.clintonfoundation.org.