Changemaker Central makes innovation and leadership approachable

President Crow sure tosses around some big ideas. The Slate magazine “Top Right” award winner frequently mentions the global scale, interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation. Crow’s ambitious designs for the University are not necessarily grandiose, though. These ideas are a model for each Sun Devil’s ideal and complete university experience.

Changemaker Central, a space on each campus that is devoted to brainstorming the best way to realize an idea, demonstrates that everyone can take the initiative that has become synonymous with Crow’s New American University plan.

The centers are a realistic approach to entrepreneurship and community service because they provide support for inventive students. Taking the first step toward an idea can be difficult and confusing, and it has certainly kept many bursts of brilliance relegated to scribbled Post-It notes.

Gianna Miller, a secondary education senior and a Change Agent at the Tempe Memorial Union center, said that even though it only takes one person to make a change, it is crucial to bring students together.

“[Change] starts with an idea, but it needs to be chiseled and shaped, and coming in here and using what we have to offer the students totally helps that process,” she said.

Miller also said that entrepreneurial students who have similar ideas are able to unite their visions to accomplish more. This is probably a less intimidating and more manageable way to make change than, say, starting a company from your dorm room.

“In our training we talked a lot about how there are a lot of ideas for new businesses and non-profits that are doing the exact same thing. It’s really important to help them work together to make a better and even stronger force for change,” Miller said.

Changemaker’s opportunities for collaboration peels that scribbled Post-It note off the wall and makes it go somewhere.

Adam Morrison, a supply chain junior who is also a community assistant at Barrett, the Honors College, uses Changemaker Central in his work with Camp Sparky, an outreach program for local, disadvantaged students that encourages them to pursue education after high school through a technical school, a community college or a university.

He said Changemaker Central helps him make an impact. “[It helps] facilitate our goal to make a difference beyond just getting a degree,” he said. “Without this work area, who knows where we would be, a loud section of the MU?” Miller specifically noted the center’s technology that connects multiple computers for meetings and presentations as being helpful.

Changemaker Central challenges us to not treat college like a conveyor belt that spits out a degree that might help us find a mediocre, uninspiring job. It has the potential to wake students up and help them realize they are not passive parts of a system out of their control, but are rather in a position to become, as Ghandi famously said, "the change they want to see in the world," a greeting that was scrawled in dry erase marker when I stopped by Memorial Union’s Changemaker Central earlier this week.

It offers change in helpful action, not just spirited words. It will enable students to make an impact beyond being another graduate, just like President Crow has. Who knows? Maybe an ASU graduate will be on the next list of “Top Right” award winners.


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