Collegiate Hosts Annual Global Issues Forum

Approximately 75 high school students from seven public and private schools in the Richmond area gathered at Collegiate School today for the Fifth Annual Global Issues Forum.
The forum empowers students to see each other as leaders — and teachers — on complex global issues. Fifteen Collegiate students who are enrolled in a Senior Capstone class, Global Public Health, also took part.

The following schools, in addition to Collegiate, attended this year’s forum, themed Global Public Health: St. Christopher’s School, St. Catherine’s School, Saint Gertrude High School, Freeman High School, Hermitage High School and James River High School. Students with global issues clubs or classes from the schools led sessions in which they shared projects their student body has focused on this year.

“Having a day to focus on any one topic is a gift to our students,” said Rhiannon Boyd, who co-teaches the Senior Capstone class with Jere Williams and helped organize today’s event. “Our featured speakers all tackled the mammoth challenges of Global Public Health in a variety of contexts. These perspectives will inform, inspire and provide insight into how multiple skill sets and strengths can make meaningful impact in the world.”
The forum featured two speakers, Tatenda Ndambakuwa, a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Bruce V. Thomas, founder and managing director of The Arcady Group.

Ms. Ndambakuwa, born and raised in Harare, Zimbabwe, is passionate about the application of mathematics in technology, policy making, food security and global health. At VCU, she  is majoring in applied mathematics and her ultimate goal is to be a data scientist for humanitarian efforts. Ms. Ndambakuwa is currently developing shiri, an application allowing peer-to-peer communication for African farmers. She has also been involved in, where she worked to raise the awareness of and funding for neglected tropical diseases.

Mr. Thomas helps organizations and businesses address global health issues, improve patient health outcomes, accelerate drug development and drive global growth by addressing key challenges in patient care and disease management. As both a consultant and grantee to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, he leads the development, testing and scale-up of new approaches to improve adherence and support differentiated care for TB and HIV patients in China, India and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Ms. Ndambakuwa told forum participants that she was happy to be with them to exchange ideas and be part of the day’s dialogue. She called them the world’s future problem solvers, who must go beyond traditional thinking to solve today’s global issues.

“Every one of you has something to offer,” she said. “Start working today to make the world a better place.”

Mr. Thomas spoke about his work with the Gates Foundation for the past four years, which he called the most rewarding of his career.

“There are many needs out there and there is lots of work to do,” he said. “Make this an important part of your life going forward.”

Forum attendees also heard from John Dau, Collegiate’s Global Scholar-in-Residence, who shared his experiences, from surviving war-torn South Sudan as a child to now heading a global nonprofit organization.

During several sessions in the afternoon, students from various schools presented on their work in the community. Students from James River High School discussed their creation of Fair Traders of JRHS: Ideas to Action, which raises awareness of fair trade among their peers. The school is now the first fair trade-certified high school in Virginia. Hermitage High School students presented the work they’ve done with human trafficking prevention education. Collegiate students Thomas Rausch, Duncan Owen and Liza Miller spoke of their experience with the Remote Area Medical program in Wise, Virginia.

A forum dedicated to students learning from one another connects peers from public and independent schools and builds a network of passionate young citizens, Mrs. Boyd said.

“Most importantly, we celebrate a global mindset — one where we recognize the complex issues we face, face these challenges with self-assuredness and seek human connectedness in order to impact a change, however small,” she said.