With the latest developments in advanced learning has come the opportunity for students to break out of their classrooms and gain skills and connections to use throughout their lives. This new era of innovation through technology and collaboration has changed the educational realm for the better.
My recent experiences through a higher education business community has connected me with a network previously beyond reach.
Enactus – Investing in Students Taking Action
The convention center was filled with student representatives from 120 schools each there to present their work to the judges. The energy was like nothing I have ever witnessed before. Every person was nervous, excited, and yet, supportive.
You might assume the teams would be fiercely competitive and the atmosphere would be tense. It’s true, we had all been working toward the same goal of advancing at nationals. However, what the average person might fail to recognize is that advancing in the competition was merely a secondary goal. The primary objective all 120 schools were working towards was creating a better world through entrepreneurial action (and some bragging rights).
Hence the motto of the organization, “When we compete to improve lives, we all win.”
Enactus USA held its annual competition in St. Louis, Missouri to determine the national champions moving on to the world cup. Enactus is an organization dedicated to making the world a better place though entrepreneurial action. As a network of student, academic, and business leaders the organization is committed to using entrepreneurship to create a more sustainable world.
Talking to the other teams was not a way to gain competitive advantage, but to connect with the amazing people who have and will continue to make a difference in the world.
This community allowed each student to connect beyond their network while improving lives.
Sitting in the awards ceremony awaiting the results, we had the opportunity to hear from influential speakers from organizations such as Coca-Cola, Walmart, KPMG, and most inspiring, the UN Foundation.
Aaron Sherinian the Chief Communications and Marketing Officer of the United Nations Foundation, spoke of society’s most urgent problems, such as energy and climate, global health, and women’s economic empowerment. He noted that he knows the future is bright because, in that convention center, he met the people who will be changing the world. To have the encouragement and approval of these impressive people fuels the change and growth.
This drive and collaboration in the organization is a sentiment I was familiar with in my internship at Extreme Networks. The innovative environment centered on technology has created a space where I can connect, collaborate, and learn while making a difference in the world.
I was able to watch the presentations of the top 4 teams, and I too now know the world changes for the better each time an Enactus team sets its sights on a goal.
My own team, from UNH Manchester, focused on empowering women this year and even created an app enabling entrepreneurs to obtain grants. Our team was able to place 3rd in the first round of competition.
The 2016 national champions, La Sierra University, tackled issues such as the instability of impoverished areas of India by sustaining a cow bank system where cows were sold via loans to women who would then pay back the loan. They also began a mobile grocery store, bringing healthy food options to food deserts (areas of the United States without proper access to grocery stores).
These projects are not just good press, they are good practice. Being a part of this community has allowed me to not only grow as a person but to also have made a difference in the world.
The messaging of Enactus, “We live our values of passion, innovation, integrity, and collaboration in all that we do,” can and should be applied to all organizations.
Organizations like these are ushering in a new era of innovation for students and putting previously unattainable resources at the fingertips of students everywhere. The future of the world is in the hands of us all and through collaboration, technology, and innovation, we just might be able to connect beyond our network.