At USD, Everyone is a Changemaker


At USD, Everyone is a Changemaker

The University of San Diego is in its seventh year as a designated Ashoka U Changemaker Campus. To note, USD is one of just over 40 universities worldwide to have this distinction. Other college and university campuses are large and small, public and private and Catholic and other denominations.

Changemaker 2017

Being a Changemaker is something that everyone can do and there are many ways to act on it. 

“At USD, we believe that everyone can practice changemaking. We encourage you to commit to be in the service of addressing social issues that matter to you and explore new ideas that will have a positive impact,” says a USD Changemaker Hub booklet to introduce the USD community to what it means to be a Changemaker.

“‘To be in the service of’ means that we approach our changemaking pursuits with humility and that we understand that our efforts are linked to those who have pursued social justice in the past and those who will follow our own efforts.”

When the Ashoka organization awarded USD its Changemaker Campus status beginning in the 2011-12 year, one reason why was that USD was already doing great work in terms of its nationally recognized community outreach, support and resources to help students achieve and the mission and values connected to being a Torero.

USD continues to embody its Changemaker designation and remains varied and inclusive campus wide. Students can connect through community programs in the Mulvaney Center for Community, Awareness and Social Action. They can go on immersion trips to be in and build community, both locally and across the U.S.-Mexico border. Professors and undergraduate research-focused students work on an important water project in Uganda, nursing students provide healthcare services in foreign countries. Student entrepreneurs are motivated to pursue social entrepreneurship ideas and enter the Changemaker Challenge, the Global Social Innovation Challenge and the V2 Pitch Competition. Members of Greek Life and events such as the USD Relay for Life are always raising important funding and creating awareness for a variety of causes. Student-athletes spend time away from both pursuits to be in community, whether it is youth sports clinics in Linda Vista or Poway, attending a community parade or charity event or the baseball team is travelling to Mexico to build homes.

Changemaker Block Party

On Thursday, Oct. 12, the Changemaker Block Party along Torero Way gave organizations the chance to showcase themselves to students who are looking to find what they’re most passionate about. Opportunities included learning more about nonprofit education and the nonprofit institute, both housed in the School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES); the Kroc School promoting its degree offerings in peace and justice, social innovation and programs such as the inspiring Women PeaceMakers program; having USD centers such as the Women’s Center, the Black Student Resource Center, the United Front Multicultural Center, the Center for Peace and Commerce, Outdoor Adventures and the Office of Sustainability share their knowledge and provide hands-on ways for students to get involved.

Off-campus opportunities included a program enabling students to tutor refugee children living in San Diego and The Butterfly Project, which gave participants the chance to let their artistic touch shine by way of painting a ceramic butterfly to memorialize and remember the 1.5 million children who died in the Holocaust.

Changemaker Education Forum

The Changemaker mindset was also recently part of a forum presentation given by Ashoka’s Vipin Thekk, associate director for the organization’s Youth Venture program, and hosted by the SOLES Department of Learning and Teaching to all graduate students striving to be teachers.

Thekk, along with guest speakers George Mason University Professor Paul Rogers and 2006 USD graduate alumna Kate Dickinson, the K-12 Initiatives Director for Educating Changemakers for the San Diego Cooperative Charter School, each spoke on the power of and instilling a changemaking skill set — empathy, teamwork, problem solving and leadership — for young students.

Thekk’s presentation put forth a Changemaker definition: “Anyone who, through their own idea, takes initiative and causes positive change for the greater good.”

Dickinson gave a positive, high-energy presentation, which showed just how much she enjoys seeing the Changemaker mindset give students the desire to excel and achieve more.

Rogers sought to have the student-teachers think about “re-imagining schools as a place where educators and students are energized, engaged and motivated to take initiative in the classroom; that educators feel a sense of purpose, joy and freedom in their work; that students and teachers demonstrate empathy, compassion and respect the viewpoints of their peers; and that students are capable of independently identifying problems, creating solutions and taking action in their community.”

Viviana Alexandrowicz, a SOLES associate professor who organized the Oct. 3 forum, aimed to collaborate with and support teacher candidates in cultivating educational environments where students grow to become leaders and creative agents of social change and innovation in the classroom and in their communities.

Undergraduate Changemaker Academic Opportunities

For undergraduate students, there are three minors to consider to shape your interest in changemaking. There is a Changemaker minor, a Peacebuilding and Social Innovation Minor and a Nonprofit Social Enterprise and Philanthropy Minor. Each of these academic pursuits provide students with opportunities to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to practice changemaking.

There is also the Social Change Corps, a program that supports students who want to explore changemaking opportunities both financially and through mentoring. This year’s SCC offers $500 during a semester for a team of three to five students to develop their skills in framing social issues and creating innovative approaches to address them.

Changemaker-Fused Fall 2017 Events

The block party was one of many events connected to both USD’s Changemaker Hub and the Changemaker Student Committee for this academic year. There are many more events on the way, including these throughout the fall semester:

Tuesdays, 1 p.m. — Changemaker Student Committee meetings are held weekly in the Student Life Pavilion, Room 320.

Wednesday, Oct. 18, 7 p.m. — My Story, Hahn University Center Forums.

Thursday, Oct. 26, 12-2 p.m. — Impact Career Fair: Companies for a Brighter Future, UC Forums.

Saturday, Oct. 28, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. — Design Thinking Crash Course, Loma Hall’s Cymer Ideation Space (first floor).

Monday, Nov. 13 — Application Deadline for the USD Changemaker Challenge. The theme of this video-making competition is “Equity and Access: Education, Housing and Healthcare.”

— Ryan T. Blystone

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