June 2015, Volume 19, Number 3

Powerful Partnerships


Round Two for CGI U

A team of students from the YES! Club at North Campus recently received a $1,000 grant from the MDC Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) seed funding account for their winning idea to make a positive change in the world. Daniel Cardona, Jasiel Diez and Rachel Pappalardo are using the funds to set up a solar array that will generate electricity for the campus. Their  collaborative project is being planned, developed and constructed by students in YES!, which is an acronym for YES! for Environmental Sustainability.

CGI U sponsors an annual gathering of inspired college students who commit to projects that can have a real impact on making the planet a better place to live. Earlier this year, Miami Dade College sent one of the largest contingents ever of students from a single college to this prestigious national meeting.

The Grid Grows

Pleased with the progress made so far on the project, YES! Vice President Pappalardo said, “We are very close to achieving our goal. Jasiel and I are hoping to expand the grid next year to include a larger area and come up with more environmental ideas to improve MDC.”

The group’s focus on their mission impressed not only national leaders at CGI U but also administrators at MDC, which has a strong tradition of service learning.

Leading the Way

“From the start, this undertaking has been about leadership,” said Joshua Young, director of Miami Dade College’s Institute for Civic Engagement and Democracy and coordinator for MDC’s CGI U program. “Daniel, Rachel and Jasiel came back from the Earth Ethics Institute’s Narrow Ridge environmental residency all charged up to create this project and see it through to completion.”

The Narrow Ridge program in Tennessee builds innate leadership skills, said Colleen Ahern-Hettich, director of the Earth Ethics Institute, which works closely with students on MDC’s CGI U projects.

“With his strong academic background in environmental engineering, Daniel has been able to rally  other students around him to get this done,” she said. “His energy is simply magnetic.”

Staying Connected

A second team of MDC students from InterAmerican Campus has received $800 in a seed funding grant to get a wireless device solar charging station up and running on campus. The student team included Meily Wu, a second-year mathematics student, and Mirtha Echeverría, who is studying engineering.

“We started this project earlier this year as a concept,” Wu said. “Now with this seed funding, we can expand upon that great idea.”

Wu and Echeverría have been conducting other fundraising activities to raise the cash needed to bring the station to fruition at InterAmerican Campus and then other MDC campuses.

Since YES! is intently focused on using social media and networking channels to promote its environmental goals, the device-charging station was a natural choice for a project.

“The vision of this endeavor is a campus and community in which sustainable energy is a foremost consideration in students’ awareness as it involves the everyday action of charging a wireless device,” Echeverría said.

Activists Earn Scholarships

In addition to capturing the attention of national and local leaders at the Clinton Global Initiative University, Daniel Cardona and Meily Wu recently were recognized for their outreach efforts when they received coveted Joyce DiBenedetto-Colton Earth Literacy scholarships, named for longtime supporter and EEI past director Joyce DiBenedetto-Colton.

Cardona has been president of the YES! Club, where he began his own service learning by developing the Recycle Patrol. Wu, who is YES! Club president at InterAmerican Campus, has helped create a Zen Garden on campus in addition to working on the solar charging station (article above).

“Both of these students have shown amazing self-motivation. They have been dynamic catalysts for action on campus,” said EEI Director Colleen Ahern-Hettich.

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