West Virginia Wesleyan College's Rich Sutphin, a senior biology major from Seth, recently attended the Clinton Global Initiative University.
The conference is hosted by the Clinton Global Initiative for university students around the world each year in April at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. Each attendee must apply with a commitment to action that deals with education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation or public health.
Sutphin applied for the meeting with an idea for an after-school mentoring and tutoring program in Zanzibar, an idea he thought of after studying abroad last semester in that country.
"I chose to apply with this idea after living within a rural community for a few weeks," Sutphin said. "I had heard stories of how an average of only two students passes the national exam to continue their education each year."
After speaking with leaders within the community and the school principal, he understood why this was.
"Students are taught minimal English, math and science, which is a problem when sitting for this exam, as it is written in English and is primarily science and math," he said. "Therefore, I hope to build a program in which students are taught the curriculum that is required for the national exam in a fun, safe and engaging environment."
Sutphin wants to utilize not only his English skills, but also his biology background to help students learn both subjects for the exam. He commented that his future goals would be "to create a program that is run by teachers who are graduates of the program and are thus invested in both the program and community."
"CGIU gave me a few tools to help turn my idea into action, which was the main focus of the conference," Sutphin said. "I was able to network with other students that had similar ideas or had already started successful commitments."
Sutphin also attended sessions that gave him insight into prescription drug abuse, human trafficking and how to better engage women in societies in which they are oppressed. These sessions showed him how successful people started out with an idea and pursued it to fruition.
"More than anything, CGIU inspired me to push through my own limits to try to make my commitment succeed, treating each bump in the road as a learning moment instead of a stumbling block," he said.
The Center for Community Engagement & Leadership Development sponsored Sutphin's participation in the conference.