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Every year, Arizona State University’s Changemaker Central organizes the Changemaker Challenge for undergraduate and graduate students who are looking to make a difference in their local and global communities. Students compete to win funding for their innovative projects, prototypes, ventures or community partnership ideas and in the process, they learn teamwork, leadership, project development, business plan creation, public speaking and network creation.
This year, students have the opportunity to win up to $2,500 to help make their ideas become a reality. Among the 2017-2018 ASU finalists is a group of first-year graduate students enrolled in the Interdisciplinary Research Colloquium (IRC) course. Claire Abidog, Monica Hernandez, Areej Mawasi, Esther Pretti and Alonzo Silavong are competing under the team name (Me)ntor Loop. This is the second time an IRC group has become a finalist in this particular competition.
“It is surprising but I feel happy,” said Areej Mawasi, a doctoral student in Learning, Literacies and Technologies at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. “[Becoming a finalist] shows that we had a good strategic plan.”
(Me)ntor Loop is working to connect female high school students and female college students with mentors to increase academic retention rates for both high school and college graduation. The group aims to accomplish this by creating an app that would allow for consistent communication and for lifelong relationships.
“It’s validating to know that institutionally there are other students who see that gap and who see the innovative element of our project,” said Monica Hernandez, graduate student of Gender Studies at the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “We really do want to affect change for students.”
The next step in the process is the “elevator pitch” portion of the competition, which will take place on January 13, 2018 at Union Stage in the Memorial Union building in Tempe, Arizona. Each group will be given eight minutes to present their idea and answer questions in front of a panel of judges, and potentially walk away with a $2,500 check to go toward putting their plans into action.
“We’re super excited! We worked hard on this idea and on the development of the project and we just want to see where it takes us,” said Esther Pretti, first-year graduate student of Educational Policy and Evaluation at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.
Community members can get involved by sponsoring the Changemaker Challenge prize, becoming a mentor or attending events to support students who are on the entrepreneurship career path.
For more information go to: https://eoss.asu.edu/changemaker-challenge