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JCSU Represented at Clinton Global Initiative University

Charlotte, N.C. (March 17, 2014) – Three students from Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) will present their Commitment to Action projects at the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) annual meeting at Arizona State University March 21-23. The meeting hosted by President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton will convene more than 1,000 student leaders from around the world. The JCSU students will have an opportunity to showcase their work as they hear from specialists in the field of global development, brainstorm ideas and form effective partnerships with government and private sectors.

For his Commitment to Action, JCSU chemistry and biology major Omar Cossio from Asheboro, N.C., will present an update on Sustainability Village at JCSU. The village is an innovative living-learning prototype incorporating academic coursework, service-learning activities and humanitarian work that will be replicated in Haiti. It features an aquaponic garden that combines growing crops and cultivating fish in a closed loop environment. The produce from the garden is available for the campus and the surrounding community to help solve the food desert in the Northwest Corridor.

Karla Mendoza, a biology  major from Aiken, S.C., and Korey Smith, a biology and psychology major from Merrillville, Ind., will present a new STEM tutoring initiative with Bruns Academy in Charlotte, N.C., that includes a small-scale aquaponic system for educating students about sustainability and sparking their interest in STEM-related fields.

The JCSU students will compete at CGI U with some of the nation’s top institutions for funding awards. Winners may receive $5,000 to support their projects. These undergraduate and graduate students will engage in developing solutions to some of the most pressing concerns of the Millennial generation, including human rights, women’s social and economic empowerment, and combatting HIV/AIDS in the United States. They will be joined by experts, entrepreneurs, and civically-engaged celebrities such as  Bill Drayton, Chief Executive Officer, Ashoka; Gabrielle Giffords, Former U.S. Representative and Founder, Americans for Responsible Solutions; Mark Kelly, Former Astronaut and Founder, Americans for Responsible Solutions; Jimmy Kimmel, Host and Executive Producer, “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”; John McCain, U.S. Senator from Arizona; Cindy Hensley McCain, Founding Member, Eastern Congo Initiative; Reeta Roy, President and Chief Executive Officer, The MasterCard Foundation; María Elena Salinas, Anchor, Univision News; Jimmy Wales, Founder, Wikipedia; and Lauryn Williams, U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist in Sprinting and Silver Medalist in Bobsledding.

“Johnson C. Smith University plays a pivotal role in the community by preparing a cadre of students who are solutions driven and prepared to solve a myriad of global development challenges,” said Philip Otienoburu, assistant professor of biology at JCSU. “As a member of the Clinton Global Initiative University network, JCSU is part of a rapidly growing consortium of academic institutions committed to contributing sustainable solutions  through student-driven, action-oriented projects all geared towards alleviating our most pressing global concerns such as poverty, food security, environmental sustainability and conservation. This meeting offers the students a unique platform to share their ideas and highlight the importance of sustainable food systems, especially in marginalized communities and highly dynamic humanitarian settings.”

About Johnson C. Smith University

Founded in 1867, Johnson C. Smith University is an independent, close-knit urban university located in Charlotte, N.C. It has a growing national reputation for integrating the liberal arts with business, the sciences and technology in ways that empower tomorrow’s diverse entrepreneurial citizens and leaders. Offering 22 fields of study to more than 1,300 students from a variety of ethnic, socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds, the university’s excellent academic programs focus on servant leadership, civic engagement and global responsibility. For more information about JCSU, visit or follow the university on social media sites Facebook , TwitterYouTubeLinkedIn and Pinterest.

About Clinton Global Initiative University
The Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), a program of the Clinton Global Initiative, brings together college students to address global challenges with practical, innovative solutions. CGI U participants do more than simply discuss problems – they take concrete steps to solve them by creating action plans, building relationships, participating in hands-on workshops, and following up with CGI U as they complete their projects. Since 2008, students have made more than 4,000 Commitments to Action. Previous CGI U meetings have taken place at Tulane University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Miami, the University of California at San Diego, the George Washington University, and Washington University in St. Louis, and have convened more than 5,500 students from over 800 schools, 130 countries, and all 50 states. To learn more, visit

Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders year-round and at its Annual Meeting to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI also convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States. To date, members of the CGI community have made more than 2,800 Commitments to Action, which are already improving the lives of more than 430 million people in over 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $103 billion. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at

About Arizona State University
Arizona State University is one of the nation’s leading public research universities and is ranked among the top 100 universities in the world.

Known for innovation and entrepreneurism, ASU has pioneered the model for a New American University with a focus on accessibility and quality education, training students to learn for a lifetime. According to its mission, ASU will be measured not by who we exclude, but rather by who we include and how they succeed; pursuing research and discovery that benefits the public good; assuming major responsibility for the economic, social, and cultural vitality and health and well-being of the community.

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