Wednesday, April 28, 2010

FAMU Student Attends Clinton Global Initiative University

Florida A&M University (FAMU) student and Miss FAMU-elect Kindall Johnson was selected to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), which brings together young world leaders to take action on global challenges at the University of Miami.

Johnson, 20, a public relations student from Tampa, Fla., described her experience as eye opening.

“It was amazing to discuss a lot of the issues going on around the globe and to hear what the youth are doing to combat those issues,” Johnson said. “I have a passion for international affairs and I wanted to build my networks. I wanted to see how that experience would be first-hand.”

Former President Bill Clinton launched the CGI U in 2007 to engage the next generation of leaders on college campuses around the world. Each year, CGI U hosts a meeting for students, national youth organizations and university officials to discuss solutions to pressing global issues.

“Not only was I representing FAMU, but I was representing historically black colleges and universities and black Americans,” she said. “It felt so good to sit at the table of the world. Bill Clinton did an incredible job. I saw him everyday of the conference. I shook his hand. It was well organized and I look forward to going again.”

Johnson was one of nearly 1,500 attendees at the third annual event. The participants were asked to come together to make a difference in CGI U’s five focus areas: education; environment and climate change; peace and human rights; poverty alleviation; and public health.

Throughout the year and as a prerequisite of attending the CGI U meeting, students, youth directors and university officials develop their own commitments to action, a specific plan of action that addresses a pressing challenge on their campus, in their community, or in a different part of the world.

Commitments range from installing energy-efficient light bulbs to establishing campus bike share programs, from distributing life-saving water filtration kits to designing medical backpacks for nomadic doctors in Africa. Since the inaugural meeting, nearly 2,000 commitments have been made.

Johnson’s commitment is to recruit African-American males in their high schools’ International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement Programs to FAMU.

“Not many of my counselors encouraged me to attend FAMU,” said Johnson, who was in her high school’s IB Program. “I want a chance to reach these students. I want to let them know, ‘I was one of you and look what you can do.’ I want them to know they are worthy. I want them to have a respect for their people.”

Johnson, who is studying Arabic, said FAMU has prepared her greatly for her new role and plans to give back.

“Your job now that you have gotten through the door is to hold the door open for future Rattlers,” Johnson said.

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