Strong Showing for Trinity at Clinton Global Initiative University

Six Students Attended Conference in St. Louis in Spring Semester
Hartford, Conn. (June 10, 2013) -- Trinity College students were well represented at the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) earlier this year, at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.  Six Trinity students were invited for their innovative ideas and actions.    Kristen Duquette ‘13, Sean Snyder ‘13, and Charlie Wedeen (pictured bottom) were selected for their disability rights project, “Day in a Wheelchair.”  Josh Frank ’16 and Andreas Peguero ’16 (pictured top) were selected for a social media platform, which they plan to develop to connect teachers around the world.  Miriam Altuya ’16 (pictured middle) was invited to speak on a panel at the event.  

The gathering of innovative humanitarians included presentations by former President Bill Clinton; Chelsea Clinton, NBC News Special Correspondent; Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter and Square; and several other noteworthy speakers.  In addition, Steven Colbert of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, interviewed President Clinton and created Clinton’s Twitter account (@BillClinton), which has since gained more than a half million followers.

The Day in a Wheelchair project started at Trinity, where students, faculty, and staff were invited to spend a day in a wheelchair to bring attention to disability rights issues.  More than 25 people on campus participated, and the project was met with high enthusiasm by the Trinity community.  Duquette, Snyder, and Weeden carried that energy to Washington, D.C., after applying for and being accepted for the CGI U conference.

“I didn’t realize how inspirational the wheelchair project was – I couldn’t believe it,” Duquette said after the event.  “Other students want to bring it to their schools.”    

Duquette, a world-class swimmer with a form of muscular dystrophy, called the conference “…one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever been a part of.”

Frank and Peguero, both P.O.S.S.E. Scholars from Brooklyn, N.Y., were accepted to the conference for their social media platform, “Connecting Classrooms,” which they are hoping will connect teachers around the world, to create a common place to exchange ideas.  They plan to release the project later this year.  

“Outside of class, homework, and extracurriculars, we are working on this around the clock,” Peguero said before the CGI U event.  “We’ve learned a lot working on this and have gained really great experience.  We are honored to have been chosen.”

Altuya, who hails from Nairobi, Kenya, spent a gap year working in the slums of Nairobi, for Sanergy, a non-profit that builds sustainable sanitation in urban slums.  Altuya spoke as part of a panel​, entitled “Solving the Global Sanitation Crisis.”  
“There were over 1,000 very good ideas in the room,” she said.  “That’s a lot of ideas.  It was quite motivating.”
President Clinton told the students that it is all right to fail, as long as it’s not a product of laziness.  He emphasized the importance of taking action, according to Duquette.

“It was amazing to be surrounded by so many incredible people,” Duquette said.  “We all share the mindset that it is important to help others.”