Barry University student leaders Paola Montenegro and Alberto Liriano participated in the 8th annual Millennium Campus Conference in Washington, D.C., recently.
Organized by the Millennium Campus Network, the five-day international conference featured a forum, debates, plenary sessions, and a lobbying day. The conference, which was held at Howard University, brought together more than 250 students from several countries to discuss global development programs and issues.
Montenegro and Boston University student Wali Sabuhi moderated a forum focused on leadership roles within the global development sector.
Speakers at the forum included Hugh Williams, senior foreign service officer at the U.S. Department of State; Alexis Bonnell, division chief of applied innovation and acceleration in the U.S. Global Development Lab at the U.S. Agency for International Development; and Nate Hurst, chief sustainability and social impact officer at HP. Also among the speakers were Jennifer Fraser, director of college organizing at ONE Campus, and Emily Conron, coordinator of student outreach at END7, a campaign of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases at the Sabin Vaccine Institute.
Montenegro and Sabuhi were selected to meet with government officials, as well as university and college executives, at the White House. Along with MCN Executive Director Sam Vaghar and Managing Director Abigail Kelble, they made a presentation on the Millennium Fellowship, a semester-long program for student leaders.
Government officials at the meeting were Tina Tchen, assistant to the president and executive director of the White House Council on Women and Girls; Kyle Lierman, associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement; and Elias Alcantara, associate director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.
Montenegro and Sabuhi were Millennium Fellows last year. They completed the fellowship aimed at improving student organizations, developing strategic partnerships, and creating community impact.
For his part, Liriano joined Montenegro and other conference delegates at the forefront of lobbying day activities on Capitol Hill. They supported ONE, an advocacy organization that campaigns to end extreme poverty and preventable diseases, particularly in Africa. ONE has been promoting an initiative called ONE Campus to mobilize college students in the fight against extreme poverty.
The delegates met with staff of their state senators and members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Liriano and Montenegro met with Sen. Marco Rubio’s foreign policy legislative aide, Bethany Poulos. They requested continued support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
For Montenegro, a junior majoring in political science, the conference reinforced how she can make a difference in the world.
“It was so rewarding to meet with like-minded students who have great aspirations to change the world and bring about social justice in different areas such as gender equality, the environment, health, and youth development,” Montenegro said.
For Liriano, a junior majoring in chemistry, the conference provided “a unique and fresh experience,” encouraging him “to be a part of the conversation, challenge new ideas, and to listen, while being open-minded to different perspectives.”