Inside USD

Changemaker Fest

Friday, September 27, 2013

Spencer Lee is a student role model for the University of San Diego’s designation as an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus.

Lee, a business major and peace and justice minor, fully embraces social entrepreneurship as a legitimate pathway to his post-USD future. As director of Changemaker Initiatives for USD Associated Students, his passion is evidenced by dedicating much of his summer and the first month of the fall semester for planning and preparing for the third annual Changemaker Fest, Sept. 30 to Oct. 4.

“We’re trying to make it tangible and real for students, ” said Lee of the Changemaker Fest. “Being a Changemaker Campus is a great way to brand USD and I think helping raise awareness of what it means to be a Changemaker and how students can be a Changemaker in so many ways is really important.”

This year’s Fest, described as “a week dedicated to defining, exploring and putting change into action,” offers more than 20 events. Inspiring and entrepreneurial speakers, film screenings, and topics expected to generate discussion will help Changemaker Fest attendees enhance their knowledge and discovery.

“Looking at the different workshops, activities and celebrations that will happen during the week, they’ll see our collective understanding of changemaking at USD,” said USD Changemaker Hub Director Patricia Marquez. “It all reveals how changemaking entails individual reflection and transformation, dialogue and deep understanding of social issues and the development of specific capabilities to create positive social change.”

Each day offers a variety of events — there’s even daily morning yoga at 7:30 a.m. in the Student Life Pavilion’s third-floor courtyard — and Lee, as both a planner and as a business student, is happy to note that 13 Changemaker Fest events are approved for points in the School of Business Administration’s Professional Development Passport Program.

“I know they all need passport points to graduate,” he said. “There are so many ways during the week to really find something they’re interested in, maybe something that’s a different topic than what they normally attend to get points. This is a different way to look at the business side of social entrepreneurship or from the business side in general, a different route you can take with business. This is how to be a Changemaker in the business world. Learning about these events and learning about social issues is a great way to do that.”

And then there’s the schedule on Thursday, Oct. 3, which will serve as the week’s centerpiece.

The Changemaker Festival and Playground Career Fair goes from noon to 1:30 p.m. in front of the Hahn University Center on Torero Way. The main festival will feature on- and off-campus opportunities for students to get involved and explore social change. RECESS: The Playground, is a networking event with world-changing startup companies in a setting that is reminiscent of a playground. Each startup brings interactive games, creating a fun, laid-back environment for students to learn about startups, ask questions, seek advice and create relationships to open doors to many possibilities.

Following that, UC Forum C will host a “Study Hall Speaker Series” from 1:15 to 2:30 p.m. Three innovators — Brent Freeman, Lilly Kam and Cory Levy — will discuss topics relevant to college student success including personal branding, career obstacles and landing your dream job.

Freeman is founder of, an online marketplace featuring fashion-forward brands that are making a positive impact everywhere. He will speak on the topic of “Live Your Life with a Purpose.”

Kam is the director of STEM and Foundation, the latter which was founded by musician/entrepreneur Kam helps to develop STEM programs, initiatives and partnerships for the foundation. Kam will discuss “How to Succeed When You Don’t Know Your Career Path.”

Levy, a 21-year-old entrepreneur, is co-founder and chief operating officer for One, a mobile application that lets you know when there are people right next to you who share your interests. Levy, who has six years of startup experience, has already raised more than $1 million for One. His previous experience includes creating the NextGen Conference at age 17. The conference connects young entrepreneurs to more experienced ones and venture capitalists.

The RECESS Music Festival, starting in UC Forum C, features high-profile DJ/Producer 3LAU to close out the day in a fun way.

Fittingly, Thursday’s events are derived from student-driven ideas, which is key for the Changemaker Fest.

“I’m inspired by the commitment demonstrated by our students to bring USD’s Changemaker Campus to life. It’s very exciting to see that many of the other 22 Ashoka U campuses ask to speak to our students, to learn about the fest, from concept to its organization,” Marquez said. “The Fest is student-led and the organization of it is most impressive. The Fest shows the power of integration and community among different types of students and student groups. … In making this happen, USD students demonstrate with their creativity, capacity to collaborate and actions what it is to be a USD Changemaker. Who wouldn’t be excited about that?

— Ryan T. Blystone

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