The University of San Diego is a designated Ashoka U Changemaker Campus. As a steward of this initiative, the USD Changemaker Hub awarded nine current USD students with up to $2,000 each in the Summer Changemaker Fellowship program, which was partially funded by School of Business Administration Board of Advisors member Chris Crane. Each student has worked on a project they’re passionate about that makes positive change. This is the fourth in a series of Inside USD articles about the 2013 Summer Changemaker Fellows.
Change from within can translate into a bigger picture. This was the concept Leo Brown-Young held close when forming The New Beginning Alliance. He calls it “a movement, rather than an organization,” that seeks to unite the University of San Diego’s diverse community through various inclusive means.
As he begins his junior year, Brown-Young is the leader of a movement that seeks to increase school spirit, integrate students of different backgrounds in social settings, and instill a general sense of community throughout campus. His methodology includes organizing events that allow USD students to come together and celebrate their commonalities as well as their differences.
Last year, The New Beginning Alliance held “I Am Unstoppable,” an event that brought students together to show off their individual talents. The acts ranged from guitar performances to small skits. Hugely successful, Brown-Young pointed out that the message of this event was to focus on the “I” portion of the title.
“By focusing on oneself, students can evaluate their place at USD, as members of a larger community,” he said.
Brown-Young’s inspiration to start a movement, one that creates more energetic student involvement, came from a very personal place. As a young black man on campus, he noticed that many students, particularly males, of different ethnic backgrounds were not integrated into campus life as much as others. As a result, campus spirit seemed dull, and needed some zest. The former Torero football player said he decided that during his time at USD, he wanted to be a Changemaker.
“The New Beginning Alliance is literal, because it means a new story for USD,” he explained.
The New Beginning Alliance plans to continue its events this year, and is currently working on generating weekly meet-ups. The start of the school year presents many opportunities to create excitement throughout the student body.
One goal this semester is to have “Torero Tuesdays,” which would be a space from Maher Hall to Olin Hall for students to come together, play music, get to know each other, and form new academic or social alliances. The first Torero Tuesday event is Sept. 17 with a Cha-Cha lineup that begins at Copley Library at 12:05 p.m. followed by a picnic from 12:15-2 p.m. This, he hopes, can generate excitement about being a Torero at USD and can spark more school spirit that could, in turn, include supporting fellow classmates who are competing for USD sports teams and help fill the stands for contests at Torero Stadium, Jenny Craig Pavilion and other campus facilities.
The response to collaborate came particularly from Associated Students, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES), he said. His interest in creating a movement to change USD’s culture has sparked interest not only from schools, but also student organizations such as the women’s club volleyball, the Transfer Student Organization and Greek Life sororities and fraternities. He most recently gave a speech to the entire Class of 2017 during the new student orientation.
All it takes to gain a sense of Brown-Young’s desire to connect with other Toreros is to walk with him on campus. He greets everyone he sees with a smile, a “hello” or even a wave if they’re across the street. He enjoys the interaction and doesn’t hesitate, even briefly, to chat with people.
The Summer Changemaker Fellowship, which was created by the USD Changemaker Hub has enabled him the chance to prepare additional ways to spread the word and create awareness.
“I am not alone,” said Brown-Young, who believes The New Beginning Alliance can leave a mark at USD that will continue after he graduates.
“Passion comes from the heart. I believe in our school.”
— Rashmi Chugani ‘13