Scholarship to Help Young People Change America
Global English Editing has launched a scholarship program for American students’ intent on changing the country. In this blog we outline the reason for the scholarship and why we think young people today have enormous potential to be change-makers and make a positive contribution to society.
Tomorrow’s transformative figures in America are unlikely to be current politicians who, despite good intentions, are constrained by incredible levels of partisanship and political dysfunction. Nor will they be prominent business leaders, as they are accountable to shareholders and not the common good. Instead, the next great transformers are likely to be young, educated and unsatisfied with the status quo. You can bet their ideas will seem radical at first as all great ideas were once seen.
Young people are the future of America, but they have always been considered so. As a rule, young people are restless, have lofty idealism, are suspicious of authority and have a healthy disregard for established conventions. In other words, they are the perfect agents of change. This is as true today as it was 50 years ago.
However, students today are better equipped to be change-makers than any previous generation. We are all aware at how quickly the world has changed thanks to globalization, speed of light communication and unprecedented access to knowledge via the Internet. It has broken down many of the barriers to individual achievement and the ability of a single individual to affect change.
Anyone with a smartphone, which would have been considered a supercomputer 40 years ago, can access the database of human knowledge that has accumulated on the Internet, connect with like-minded people around the globe and take selfies all at the same time. Technology, and the world’s digital connectedness, means that they can be genuinely influential.
Cynics who doubt the ability of a young person to be truly transformative ignore recent history. In a dorm room ten years ago, Mark Zuckerberg began building a platform that would go on to connect the globe, with the initial motivation to identify girls on campus. Imagine what a university student can accomplish today, given that Tinder has made the search for romance less complicated.
Young American change-makers are becoming ubiquitous in all walks of life. Tech entrepreneurs, business prophets, science geniuses and political and social activists, for example, are having a substantial impact on society.
The technology startup scene is dominated by the young and ambitious, as it has been for 20 years. Evan Spiegal and Lucas Duplan, co-founders of Snapchat and Clinkle, respectively, are two recent examples of young people who had great ideas and the willingness to pursue them. Although money often remains a requirement to develop something great in the tech industry, crowdfunding is becoming increasingly popular and it is not always necessary for a young person with a vision to have to woo elite, high value investors.
A young entrepreneur doesn’t have to aspire to be a billionaire to be influential. Divya Nag is a medical pioneer who founded StartX Med and Stem Cell Theranostics, which are leading the way in developing new stem cell technologies. Marc Nager is the founder of the not-for-profit Startup Weekend organization, which has provided education and resources to budding business people and has helped 8.500 startups get off the ground.
Young social and political activists no longer have to have a political party affiliation and serve an apprenticeship in Washington. Daniel Maree founded the Million Hoodies Movement for Justice to help protect young minorities from gun violence in America. Catharine Bellinger and Alexis Morin, cofounders Students for Education Reform, are intent on ending educational inequality and provide learning opportunities for all children, regardless of race or background.
America is a better country because of these people, and for the drive, innovation and idealism of thousands of other young people around the country who often go unrecognized.
In light of this, ‘A Better America Scholarship Program’ aims to recognize university students in the United States who have big agendas, and make a financial contribution to help them become change-makers. Our scholarship program doesn’t place us in the big league of corporate philanthropy, but it will hopefully assist a young person each year alter the status quo.
As for how the 2014 winner—to be announced mid-January next year— will one day change America, let’s hope it’s in the most unexpected way