Mercer students accepted to Clinton Global Initiative University

Students Chelsea Flieger and Garret McDowell were commended for their dedication to the LEAP community service program by receiving their acceptance letters to Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU) on Feb. 9. CGIU is a national leadership conference that is hosted once a year. This year the conference will be held in Washington D.C. from March 30-April 1.

There will be thousands of community-service driven students from across the nation attending the CGIU conference on March 30-April 1. Garret and Chelsea agree that one of the largest benefits from this conference is that they will have the opportunity to meet so many people who have a great deal of experience in leadership and community service events. Garret said, “The best thing about this is that we are not the only people who have ideas like LEAP. CGIU will allow us to see what other people’s ideas are and how we can then relate those ideas back to the Macon community in order to take LEAP to the next level.”

Applying to CGIU is a very time consuming process. Garret and Chelsea chose to apply as a team; together, they spent hours perfecting their application. Numerous students from across the nation apply to CGIU every year and acceptance to the program is extremely competitive. Garret and Chelsea were a part of the first batch of acceptance letters.

In order to be considered for the program, students must make a proposal for something that they plan to do in order to make the world a better place. Once students are accepted to the program, they are expected to fulfill these commitments. Garret and Chelsea’s commitment is a continuation of the LEAP service program; they are working on expanding the program. Another goal of theirs is to target the causes of poverty rather than just the effects.

For example, the team is planning many educational events such as tutoring at local schools and sponsoring a reading festival in order to encourage reading and education to local students.

LEAP community service program began in the fall of 2010 and has progressively grown each semester.

 The LEAP team has set a goal of logging 10,000 community service hours related to poverty alleviation. Currently, the team is half way to their goal and has logged about 5,000 community service hours.

One of the team’s goals is to transform the LEAP program into a campus organization.

Flieger and McDowell have high expectations for the LEAP program and intend for the program to enrich the lives of Macon residents.

Flieger said, “The ultimate goal of LEAP is to eliminate poverty in Macon. I think that as long as we keep that in mind, that we’ll keep working. But it’s not all about logging 10,000 hours, or having ‘x number’ of volunteers, it’s about making a difference. These people are our neighbors. I think if you just make one persons life better, then it makes a world of difference.”

Flieger and McDowell have formed many relationships with the Macon residents that they help and they are continuously look forward to helping those in need.

“I’ve made so many different relationships with the people that we’re helping,” said Flieger.

Through their extreme dedication to the LEAP community service program, Flieger and McDowell have been rewarded with the acceptance to CGIU.

“In the end, it’s not about numbers or statistics; it’s about people. We’ll make a dent the amount of poverty in Macon, which is all that matters,” said Flieger.

Flieger and McDowell look forward to the countless opportunities that this conference has in store for them and are anxious to apply what they learn to their efforts of poverty alleviation in Macon.