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Changemakers welcomed at USD

February 25, 2013

I love meeting new SOLES students. They leave me inspired and reinvigorated to pursue my life’s purpose. This is because my experience has been that the typical SOLES student is driven to change the world through education and social innovation. At USD we have a particular way to describe this commitment, we call ourselves “Changemakers.”


USD ChangemakerUSD is a designated Changemaker Campus through Ashoka University. This is a network 19 campuses that have demonstrated a significant and ongoing commitment to be a global-driver of social change by transforming the educational experience into a world-changing experience. Examples of other campuses in the Ashoka University network include Cornell, Marquette, Duke, and Johns Hopkins.

This past week USD hosted the “Ashoka U Exchange” with over 650 innovative students and thinkers from 150 institutions around the world. The campus was buzzing with keynotes, presentations, luncheons, and roundtables all focusing on changing the world. The activities were capped off the TEDx Ashoka U Talk at Balboa Park on Friday night featuring seven inspiring speakers.

Shai ReshefOne unique opportunity was made available only to SOLES students. Our Dean, Dr. Paula Cordeiro, invited Ashoka Fellow Shai Reshef, who founded University of the People, to a lunch and conversation with about a dozen masters and doctoral students emphasizing in higher education. To be honest, I was not aware of President Reshef or UoPeople when I received the invitation, but a quick Google search showed me that this is a person who exemplifies this idea of changing the world.

UoPeople President Reshef spoke to us about his founding of the world’s first tuition free online university. University of the People opens the gates of higher education to students in over 136 countries, with most students enrolling from Sub-Saharan African countries.   He spoke to us about his vision of making peace a closer reality through access to education.  He talked about the price of higher education and his innovative financial model to make college affordable for the tens of millions of people who otherwise would not be able to enroll in college. As a university administrator, it was an inspiring challenge to envision the possible future of higher education and to receive this challenge from someone who is at the forefront of this work.Higher Ed for All

When I am asked, why choose a SOLES education? This experience is just one example of the added value that a SOLES experience brings. I interact daily with inspiring students who are driven to change the world and I get to meet individuals like President Reshef who are on the frontlines of this change.

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