37 Student Innovators from UC Berkeley Gear-Up for Clinton Global Initiative University


UC Berkeley student Connor Gallaher presents his innovation, PlasMachine, to President Bill Clinton.

By Francesca Munsayac  

In October the Blum Center will send 37 UC Berkeley students to the 2017 Clinton Global Initiative University, an annual meeting sponsored by the Clinton Foundation. This year CGI U will bring together 1,100 students from across the country to develop innovative solutions to address challenges in the fields of education, environment, climate change, peace, human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health. CGI U provides support, mentorship, and resources to emerging student innovators, including $750,000 in prize money that is available to winning students through CGI U network members. Over 350 UC Berkeley students have partaken in CGI U over the event’s 10-year history, and have gone on to raise millions of dollars in investment to launch impactful social ventures.

This year’s CGI U attendees include nine participants from Big IDeas@Berkeley; UC Berkeley’s acclaimed student innovation contest. Like CGI U, Big Ideas@Berkeley brings together students from multidisciplinary backgrounds who collaborate to develop innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing social and development challenges. According to CGI U organizers, UC Berkeley has maintained a reputation for consistently sending large cohort of students who produce high-caliber projects every year.

Student Innovator Spotlights

The following UC Berkeley teams are among those that will present at the CGI U annual meeting in October. Check back on the Blum Center News’ section for updates and to track their progress as the competition unfolds.

Aiding the Refugee Effort in Greece

Thanh Mai Bercher, UC Berkeley’s 2017 Activist of the Year, and Holly Wertman, Chair of the City of Berkeley’s Community Health Commission, joined forces to support The Melissa Networka Blum Center partner organization that provides critical services to female refugees in Greece. Bercher and Wertman are supporting the Melissa Network to develop a long-term women’s health program, which will be widely publicized through UN-based and local agencies, filling the information gap of where and how female refugees can seek health services.

Maximizing Social Relationships to Improve Women’s Health

Osman Shokoor, former Vice President of UC Berkeley’s Afghan Student Association, is building a comprehensive community-based program that connects Afghan refugee mothers, and uses modeling of positive peer behavior to demonstrate how to achieve positive health outcomes.

Shokoor will coordinate an interactive weekly women’s exercise program that includes reflection sessions, and group seminars that provide a platform for Afghan women to discuss issues related to mental health, PTSD, intergenerational trauma, and common health concernssuch as Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease. To recruit participants and volunteers, Shokoor will partner with the Afghan Coalition, the oldest and most recognized Afghan community organization in the Bay Area.