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In June 2017, three Arizona State University students received a very exciting email — they had been selected to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) later this year.
The students had submitted a global change idea proposal for a special graduate research conference they will be hosting, Feb. 1-2, 2018. Larissa Gaias, Michelle Pasco and Chanler Hilley — who are all enrolled in the Family and Human Development Doctoral program in ASU's T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics — are committee members of the Diversity and Inclusion Science Initiative (DISI) Graduate Research Conference. Their conference idea led to their invitation to this year’s CGI U.
The CGI U, launched in 2007 by former President Bill Clinton, engages over 1,000 college students yearly to discuss and take action on pressing global challenges. Over 8,700 college students from 150 countries have attended the CGI U meetings over the past ten years. To be eligible to attend, each student or student group must establish and submit a Commitment to Action. The CGI U commitments aim to address challenges in the CGI U’s five focus areas: education, environment and climate change, poverty alleviation, peace and human rights, and public health.
Of the five CGI U focus areas, Gaias, Pasco, and Hilley’s submission was in the area of education. The DISI Graduate Research Conference at ASU aims to address issues of diversity and inclusion through scholarship, which can help create and promote an inclusive society that enhances compassion, equity and empowerment, while reducing prejudice, stereotyping and exclusion. The interdisciplinary nature of this conference will bring together ASU graduate students with diverse academic backgrounds to collaborate by sharing research, teaching strategies and personal experiences that incorporate and address diversity and inclusion.
Gaias is the steering committee chair for the conference. Originally from Southampton, New York, Gaias obtained her Bachelor of Science in psychology and environmental studies from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine before receiving her Master of Science in family and human development from ASU. Her current research focuses on educational equity and how schools can better support marginalized youth.
“Getting accepted to the GCI U was very encouraging as it affirmed that this work is of broader interest beyond our team and our school,” Gaias said. “I am looking forward to getting a global perspective on diversity and inclusion and bringing back ideas to our own conference.”
Michelle Pasco, conference steering committee chair elect, was also thrilled by the special invitation to attend the CGI U: “I was really excited and happy that the goals and objectives we have for the graduate research conference was being recognized and valued at a broader level.”
An Azusa, California native, Pasco earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology with a minor in Asian American studies from UCLA, and hopes the CGI U will provide some valuable insights.
“I hope to learn tools and skills to help promote the (DISI) conference to a larger and broader audience so we incorporate even more disciplines to the conference,” Pasco said.
In the meantime, Pasco will continue her study of adolescent development, particularly Latino adolescents, living in ethnically and racially concentrated neighborhoods.
Chanler Hilley sits as the logistics committee chair for the conference. Hailing from Calhoun Falls, South Carolina, Hilley obtained his Bachelor of Science in health promotion from Coastal Carolina University before going on to receive his Master of Education in higher and postsecondary education from ASU. His research focus is on adolescence and the transition to adulthood.
“I was excited and overwhelmed to learn we were accepted to CGI U,” Hilley said. “CGI U focuses on global issues, and the acceptance reinforces the impact we can make through this conference (DISI).”
“I hope to meet other students who are interested or engaged in the type of work we’re doing at ASU," he said. "I hope we are able to continue to strengthen the conference and learn about ways to sustain our efforts through participation in CGI U.”
ASU is part of the CGI U network and hosted a meeting in 2014. This year, the CGI U will be hosted by Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts from Oct. 13-15. Over $750,000 in funding will be available to select CGI U 2017 students to help them turn their ideas into action.
Click here to register for the DISI Graduate Research Conference (must be an ASU graduate student in Spring 2018).