Igniting Passion, Community at Changemaker Fest

Igniting Passion, Community at Changemaker Fest

Changemaker is not a set definition; it is, instead, a possibility for each person to define for themselves. So Thursday, when the University of San Diego's Changemaker Hub hosted its sixth annual Changemaker Fest, themed "Igniting Change," it signaled an open opportunity for organizations and programs to make their resources known and for ideas to be available to take shape or enhance one's changemaking ability.


2016 Changemaker Fest

Outdoor Adventures, the Women's Center, University Ministry, Office of Sustainability, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES), Torero Program Board, USD Changemaker Hub, Black Student Resource Center and the Student Changemaker Committee each provided visitors with opportunities to answer how they practice changemaking.

One central space on Torero Way was a set of dining tables designed to have people sit together and meet, perhaps, for the first time, and have a face-to-face conversation. Lemons were placed on the tables with questions that served as fun and insightful icebreakers, a slight twist on the phrase "take lemons and make lemonade," or in this case, make conversation and build community.

One USD student, sophomore international relations major Songo Wawa, said this activity, along with the Changemaker Fest's presence, was a prime opportunity for participants to exercise a key ingredient that all Changemakers need.

"The best way to be a Changemaker is to open your perspectives toward other people, other cultures, other languages," Wawa said.

Vendors showcased businesses, everything from a company that makes sustainable and handmade items that support girls' education needs, to learning about aquaponics, unique education programs looking for difference-making teachers or serving clean food, everyone offered something to get attendees thinking about changes for good.

One USD student, sophomore philosophy major Kylin Copthorne, spoke about her role as the student director of the Youth Engagement Initiative (YEI), which is done through the Karen and Tom Mulvaney Center for Community, Awareness and Social Action.

"We send our students into the community and our goal is for them to be mentors to young children in the community," said Copthorne, an Ohio native. "This job is very special to me. I love having the opportunity. Every day, when I wake up, I'm really happy to go to work with the kids and learn more about Linda Vista and the community around (USD)."

Students in YEI gain leadership experience working in local elementary and middle schools and with juvenile hall residents. A USD student's presence can help create a change — both in themselves and within the children they work alongside.

"I've definitely learned a lot about myself and about the community by working with the kids and it's inspired me," Copthorne said. "I want to go into law and focus on ethical theory within small communities and emphasize that. Pretty much everything we do is to help kids make major changes in their lives."

Anh Le, a USD senior and student leader, spoke about the merits of SOLES' undergraduate nonprofit minor and certificate programs. Designed to give undergrads basic fundamental skills necessary for nonprofit organizations and management, Le, a nonprofit minor, said there are high-level opportunities such as case studies work with actual nonprofits and NGOs, both locally and international, and internships.

Through this minor, Le said she sees a changemaking career path that can combine her love of music — she plays the flute — with development of a nonprofit organization.

"My main motivation for going into the nonprofit sector is that there are certain things the government and the private sector cannot do. Change needs to be made and it needs to be personalized to the issues. That's what nonprofits are great at doing. They can focus on one population and really get to know it and figure out what’s needed, instead of these overarching programs that can't possibly help everyone."

Le’s passion for music got her interested in wanting to build nonprofit programs for low-income children to have an opportunity to learn and play music, which isn't readily available in the public school system.

"Personally I think music is an amazing thing to have in one's life," she said. "It's been a really important part of my life. It's helped me grow as a person. I recently worked as a volunteer at a music camp for young girls that had the same principles of using music to build confidence in these girls. It was an amazing process to watch. It was an honor to be there with them."

Indeed, igniting a change is what that — and what the Changemaker Fest on a designated Ashoka U Changemaker Campus — is all about.

— Ryan T. Blystone

Contact Information

Changemaker Hub
5998 Alcalá Park
San Diego, CA 92110

Phone: (619) 260-4600