Microfinance Students Bring Big Ideas to International Conference

Published on May 30, 2014

Bauer Students Attend Clinton Global Initiative University Conference


Bauer MBA student Marisol Garcia de la Cruz, UH School of Technology graduate student Calixto Mejia and Bauer MBA student Kevin Kwok attended the seventh annual Clinton Global Initiative University Meeting in March.

Microfinance students from the C. T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston focused on finding solutions to global challenges alongside world leaders as invited participants to the seventh annual Clinton Global Initiative University meeting.

Held in March at Arizona State University, the meeting brought together more than 1,100 innovative student leaders, including members of Bauer College’s Microfinance Initiative student organization. Attendees presented more than 700 “Commitments to Action,” which translate practical goals into meaningful, measureable results and address specific challenges across CGI U’s five focus areas — education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation and public health.

Bauer MBA students Kevin Kwok and Marisol Garcia de la Cruz, along with UH School of Technology graduate student Calixto Mejia, were part of that group, with the opportunity to attend sessions and networking events that allowed them to identify possible partnership opportunities with other students and university programs.

“I learned that everything is connected,” Kwok said. “We networked with students that had commitment to actions in poverty alleviation similar to ours and also learned about other global issues students were tackling. Global speakers from around the world were there to help us find solutions to better improve our projects.”

He added: “Our project focused on the alleviation of poverty in the Houston area. Some projects on a global scale interconnected with other schools to use resources to solve issues that probably would not have been readily available without that collaboration.”

Speakers at the event included Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and Manal Al-Sharif, a women’s rights activist from Saudi Arabia, as well as President Bill Clinton, Former U.S. Secretary of State and U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton.

For Kwok, hearing about a wide range of causes from peers was one of the best parts of the experience.

“The students who were there inspired me to continue to go beyond and see other areas that I could help within the world,” he said. “It sounds idealistic, but at the same time, we need to dream big to succeed.”

Bauer’s Microfinance Initiative builds on that idea, Kwok said, with a focus on members helping each other be socially and environmentally responsible to create sustainability for themselves and others.

“[Students] need to find something they are personally passionate about; otherwise the level of commitment may not lead to a positive path. There are many issues in the world, and we must think about future generations and not just ourselves,” he added.

By Ann Lynd