During her four years at UNCG, Zim Ugochukwu '11 accomplished more than most people do in a lifetime. As a biology major, she discovered and characterized a fruit fly gene that had similarities to a protein that, in its absence, causes a rare genetic birth disorder. She also created the Ignite Greensboro Project, a student-led, student-built and student-run project aimed to reestablish a sense of obligation to the community, culture and history of Greensboro. In addition to those activities, she served as vice president of activism with helloCHANGE, a youth-run anti-tobacco project, from September 2008 to June 2011. Then she topped it off by becoming UNCG's first Luce Scholar, a prestigious award that provides a year's stipend and professional placement in an Asian country for 15-18 scholars each year. She spent 2011-12 in Bangalore, India, working at Ashoka India, which helps social entrepreneurs. During her year there, she helped build a changemaker platform to give young entrepreneurs the tools to expand and grow their ideas. See a 5-minute video montage Ugochukwu created of her year in India. We have the power to make this generation the best one yet, she said during her 2011 commencement ceremony. We've toppled governments, won presidential elections, started revolutions, created successful ventures, walked hundreds and thousands of collective miles for what we've believed in. We are changing the face of what it means to be young. We could not have come at a better time.
Anna Will '12 came home from a Habitat for Humanity trip to Ghana with a mission to build a school for children who had to walk several miles to get to one in a neighboring village. She talked with her professor Hannah Rose Mendoza who made it happen. In January 2011, students from Mendoza's class traveled to Ghana to begin building the school they designed. I want to build 15 schools before I retire, Mendoza says. There's a transformative process in making something you've envisioned come to life. It's a lifestyle. And we want to show people that you don't have to wait for a millionaire or a government program; they can go grassroots.
A family vacation in 2007 changed the direction of Hilary Rivers' life. She spent four weeks in South Africa at a home that bordered the Global White Lion Protection Trust, a 1,000 acre area dedicated to protecting white lions. One look at the lions, and she was hooked. I had an epiphany," she says. I told myself I had to come back." She started her coursework at UNCG and a 499 Communication Studies class gave her a way to tie her major into volunteer work at the trust. For her outreach project she envisioned getting school children to express their appreciation of the white lions with poetry. After she graduated in December 2011, she went back to South Africa for two months and began working with children ages 6-14. It turned out way better than I thought, she says. These kids fell in love with me and I with them. In May, she returned once again this time she will stay three years. She was offered a full scholarship for a leadership academy and plans to complete her master's degree while still working with the schools and with the trust.
Kweku Atta works in Housekeeping on campus. But the children of his native Ghana are never far from his mind. Any extra money he makes goes into buying clothing and school supplies to be sent to an orphanage in Tema, Ghana. Since his story was originally shared on the UNCG home page, Atta has partnered with Mendenhall Middle School, creating cross-cultural learning opportunities for children of both countries.