Auburn and Other Sullivan Partner Schools Are Developing Rural Pharmacies in the Southeast

With a shortage of health care infrastructure, hospitals and specialty clinics in rural areas, significant health disparities exist for people in those communities. For many, the most accessible and well-positioned health care provider is the community pharmacist.

To help address this issue and provide innovative solutions, Dr. Salisa Westrick of Auburn University’s Harrison School of Pharmacy (HSOP) is collaborating with counterparts at several Sullivan Foundation partner schools to create the Rural Research Alliance of Community Pharmacies (RURAL-CP). These partner schools include the University of North Carolina, University of South Carolina and the University of Mississippi. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is participating in RURAL-CP as well.

Auburn is also a Sullivan Foundation partner school.

RURAL-CP is a network of more than 100 rural community pharmacies spanning five southeastern states and is the only network of its kind in the United States. Network members collaborate with colleges and schools of pharmacy to identify and address societal, community and professional issues that relate to medication use and pharmacy practice.

Related: Auburn University students use old-fashioned technology to help veterans get needed health care

“Prescription medications are key components of American healthcare, and pharmacists play a critical role in dispensing these medications, educating patients and ensuring patient safety,” said Westrick, Sterling Professor and department head in HSOP’s Department of Health Outcomes Research and Policy. “In an area where there is no pharmacy, residents will not have timely access to prescription drugs nor access to pharmacists they can consult with when they have questions about their medications. Therefore, our work is to build strong evidence of the value and the impact of pharmacists on patient outcomes in rural communities.”

The project is headed up by Dr. Delesha Carpenter at North Carolina’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy. Working with Westrick at Auburn are fellow faculty members Dr. Lindsey Hohmann and Dr. Natalie Hohmann, along with students NeCall Wilson, Robert Alongi and Kavon Diggs.

(Photo by Dids from Pexel)

With more than 25 rural pharmacies already enrolled, Westrick and her team are continuing to work through the on-boarding process for network members, including a site survey and visit.

“These pharmacies and the academic institutions work together to identify and prioritize critical health concerns in rural communities,” Westrick said. “Together, we will identify and refine the solutions, assess the effectiveness and feasibility of the solutions and then disseminate the outcomes to various stakeholders.”

By joining the network, pharmacies will have access to continuing education programs and workshops addressing issues such as seasonal and non-seasonal immunizations, operations during a pandemic, naloxone counseling, medication therapy management for special populations and more.

The work in the network pharmacies will also drive multiple research projects, testing the effectiveness of certain interventions.

Related: Auburn’s Rural Medicine Program helps provide future doctors throughout Alabama

“These network pharmacies will serve as demonstration sites for innovative pharmacist-led services, and the patients whom they serve can and will benefit from these interventions,” said Westrick.

Living up to Auburn’s land-grant designation, Westrick and her team are working to improve the health outcomes of Alabamians through the network. With insurance practices and low profit margins on medications making it difficult for some rural pharmacies to stay open, the program provides an opportunity for members to diversify services and find new ways to generate revenue.

“Payments to community pharmacies and pharmacists for clinical services are not common, and we hope that RURAL-CP can serve as a catalyst to change the reimbursement landscape for community pharmacists’ services and allow pharmacists to get reimbursed for clinical services they provide in their pharmacies,” Westrick said.

“It is also important to recognize that community pharmacies in rural areas are critical components of the community,” she added. “By assisting rural pharmacists and pharmacies, we ensure that Alabamians in rural areas continue to have access to their pharmacy and their trusted pharmacists.”

This article has been edited from the original version appearing on the Auburn University website.

Zachary Wilson Receives Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation Scholarship at Rust College

Freshman Zachary Wilson of Columbus, Miss., was named the newest beneficiary of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation Scholarship at Sullivan Foundation partner school Rust College.

Wilson held many leadership positions while attending high school and has been very active since arriving on the Rust campus.  He is Rust College’s newly elected Mr. Freshman and is the brother of Cameron Wilson, who has been named Mister Rust College.

Related: Eric Johnson develops Rust Innovation Lab to promote leadership and entrepreneurship at Rust College

Tianna Smith of Houston, Tex,, was awarded Rust College’s first Sullivan Scholarship in 2019. Smith is active at Rust College through basketball, the NAACP and her position as Sophomore Class Officer.

The Sullivan Scholarships recognize college students and members of the college community who put service to others before self-interest. Scholarship recipients must report their service and/or social entrepreneurship activities, engage in Sullivan Foundation marketing efforts on campus and attend one Sullivan-sponsored weekend retreat during their freshman and sophomore years.

The Sullivan Scholarship provides $10,000 for attending a Sullivan Foundation partner school and is renewable for four years.

Rust College receives Sullivan Scholarship funding in the form of an endowment from the Sullivan Foundation. In 2018, the foundation began a strategic planning process to redesign its existing scholarship program in order to deepen its relationship with students, faculty, and schools. The foundation ultimately determined to collaborate with its partner schools in the creation of a redesigned scholarship program that not only supports service-minded students, but also engages students, faculty and staff in the foundation’s programming, including twice-yearly Ignite Retreats for student changemakers and faculty, study-abroad opportunities and entrepreneurship support.

The Sullivan Foundation also offers opportunities to become Sullivan Ambassadors on its partner school campuses. Eric Johnson, who currently serves as Rust’s Student Government Association president, is also a Sullivan Ambassador. Eric is the founder of the new Rust Innovation Lab on the Rust College campus.

Related: Special education major Morgan Crowe receives Sullivan Scholarship at Lees-McRae College

Dr. Vida Mays, the Sullivan Foundation campus liaison and Rust College’s director of grants and contracts, will work with Wilson and fellow scholarship recipients over the coming years to attend retreats and field trips to further develop their community leadership skills.

Located in Holly Springs, Miss., Rust College is a historically black, co-educational, senior liberal arts college founded in 1866 by the Freedmen’s Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Rust College was founded to offer quality programs in business, education, humanities, science and math, and social science to prepare students for leadership and service in the global society.

Angel Investment Group VentureSouth Sullivan Launches Affiliate Group for Eight Colleges and Universities in South Carolina

VentureSouth, one of the country’s leading angel investment groups, has launched an affiliate group specifically for faculty, staff, alumni and students of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation’s eight partner colleges and universities in South Carolina. The institutions include Converse College, Clemson University, Furman University, Erskine College, Newberry College, the University of South Carolina, Coker University and Winthrop University.

If you’re a faculty/staff member, alumnus or student at any of the above universities, click here to join the VentureSouth Sullivan network.

The group, called VentureSouth Sullivan, is one of 14 angel investment groups and funds operated by VentureSouth, headquartered in Greenville, S.C. With its formation, anyone from the Sullivan Foundation’s partner schools, including those indicated above, can become a member of the south’s largest angel network and invest in innovative startup businesses that will drive the region’s economy. Additionally, 25 percent of their annual membership fees will be donated to the Sullivan Foundation. All proceeds will be used to financially support students, faculty and staff from the new member’s school to cover expenses so they can attend events and educational initiatives focused on making positive change in their communities through the development of impact businesses and community centered enterprises.

Members of VentureSouth Sullivan can also donate a percentage of any profits derived from their investments to benefit the Sullivan school of their choice. Therefore, alumni of these South Carolina colleges and universities can direct 25 percent of their annual membership fees and even a portion of their return-on-investment to help students and faculty at their particular alma mater.

Matt Dunbar, a managing director of VentureSouth, is an alumnus of Sullivan Foundation partner school Clemson University and received the 1999 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award.

this is a photo of the founders of VentureSouth, including Paul Clark, Matt Dunbar and Charlie Banks

Matt Dunbar (middle), a Clemson University alumnus and winner of the prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award in 1999, cofounded VentureSouth with Paul Clark (left) and Charlie Banks (right).

“I was fortunate and humbled to be presented the Sullivan Award upon graduating from Clemson, and, through chance, recently reconnected with the Foundation,” Dunbar said. “Creating this affiliate group specifically for Sullivan alumni and donating a portion of the annual fees is one way of supporting the Sullivan network of schools and encouraging students to choose a path of service to their communities.”

The 2019 Angel Funders Report, released in July 2019 by the Angel Capital Association, recognized VentureSouth as one of North America’s top 10 angel investment groups based on capital invested by its members in the previous year. VentureSouth was listed alongside some of the largest and most respected angel groups in the U.S. and Canada, including Tech Coast Angels in California; New York Angels and Golden Seeds in New York; and the Central Texas Angel Network.

Since its inception, VentureSouth has invested nearly $50 million in more than 75 companies, with a focus on companies located in the South. Companies in its portfolio include innovators like Altis Biosystems in Chapel Hill, N.C., which specializes in next-generation stem cell technologies designed to make drug discovery faster, cheaper and safer while reducing the need for animal testing; Actived, the Greenville developer of a technology platform for movement-based learning—such as walkabouts—to get kids out of their desks and onto their feet as they’re learning language arts and mathematics; and Proterra, an innovative leader in the design and manufacture of zero-emission buses that save money on fleet operations while reducing the transportation industry’s dependency on fossil fuels.

Joining VentureSouth Sullivan’s group allows Sullivan alumni to invest in similar early-stage companies with major growth potential. It’s also a chance to make a difference in an economically disadvantaged region of the U.S. VentureSouth’s motto, after all, is “Make Money. Have Fun. Do Good.”

“For VentureSouth members, ‘doing good’ comes from multiple levels of impact created by our investing activity,” Dunbar said. “We know that all net job growth in the economy comes from young companies that grow fast — and which don’t usually have access to other forms of capital — so our investments really help fuel the growth of good jobs and opportunities and wealth creation in our communities.”

“Additionally, many of our portfolio companies are working to solve serious problems in arenas like cancer diagnostics, infant screening, women’s health, public transit and clean energy,” Dunbar said. “So we are helping advance significant efforts to save lives and protect our environment. Lastly, our model allows VentureSouth members to share their experience and wisdom with the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders, which creates a wealth of good in the form of passing it down and paying it forward.”

With the new angel group for Sullivan alumni, Dunbar is paying it forward to the Sullivan Foundation as well.

“I have to admit that I didn’t know much about the Sullivan Award or the Sullivans before I became a recipient at Clemson,” he said. “But once I had a chance to learn about the history and legacy of the award and its namesake, I was extremely honored and humbled to share the award with such a long line of great servant leaders. Even now I am still challenged and inspired to try to live up to the principles and values it represents.”

To learn more about this angel investment group opportunity, contact Kevin Seddon at kevin.seddon@sullivanfdn.org.

 

Two Social Change Pioneers Lead Sullivan’s Ignite Masterclasses in November

The Sullivan Foundation will wrap up its Fall 2020 Ignite Masterclass program with a pair of sessions in November about groundbreaking companies that are inventing new paradigms aimed at disrupting the status quo, leading up to the Foundation’s semester-closing Social Entrepreneurship Opportunity Fair on Monday, Nov. 16.

November’s first Masterclass introduces Erin Boyd, head of business operations for Culdesac, a company that is building a car-free community in Tempe, Ariz. The class, titled “Placemaking as a Tool for Community + Network Building,” takes place from 4:15-5:30 p.m. (ET), on Thursday, Nov. 5.

Click here to register for the free session.

In her Ignite Masterclass session, Boyd will talk about a new approach to urban design that re-envisions our public spaces for the enjoyment of people rather than the movement and storage of automobiles. Her session will also focus on how to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces as the heart of every community. Boyd, who also cofounded Ashoka U, a global network for social entrepreneurship in higher education, will draw on her experience at Culdesac to explore the role of physical, cultural and social identities that define a space and support its ongoing evolution.

Erin Boyd of Culdesac

Related: Read more about the session and the car-free community called Tempe Culdesac.

Abhinav Khanal, cofounder of Bean Voyage (pictured at top), will lead the second November masterclass, titled, “How to Disrupt a Broken Global Supply Chain,” on Tuesday, Nov. 10. The class will be held in two sessions from 2-3:15 p.m. (ET) and from 6-7:15 p.m. (ET).

Click here to register for the first session and click here for the second session.

Khanal will share the story of how he cofounded a social enterprise—while he was still in college—aimed at helping smallholder womxn coffee producers lead their families and communities toward a sustainable future. Smallholder womxn coffee producers make 40 percent less than their male counterparts, although they comprise 70 percent of the coffee farmer workforce. Khanal’s nonprofit, Bean Voyage, provides training and direct-market access to these smallholder womxn coffee producers in Costa Rica.

The Fall 2020 Ignite Masterclass program culminates in the first Social Entrepreneurship Opportunity Fair, to be held from 6-8 p.m. (ET), Monday, Nov. 16. Participants will learn about internships, jobs, education and service positions that can help launch their careers as changemakers. From Benefit Corporations to global service organizations and from large foundations to small rural startups, the Social Entrepreneurship Opportunity Fair offers a multitude of ways to take concrete steps on your career path.

Space for the Social Entrepreneurship Opportunity Fair is limited, so click here to register and claim your spot today!

Small Acts of Kindness Create Big Impact With Furman’s Heller Service Corps

By Tina Underwood

Even if Furman University student Barrett Taylor had not undergone 12 surgeries and procedures over her 21-year span of life, she’d likely still have a soft spot for volunteerism and children. Having gone through hospitalizations for brain surgery, thyroid problems, ear tubes, adenoids and more, she’s that much more attuned to the experience of children faced with hospital stays.

Her experience is part of the reason she volunteers with Heller Service Corps and why the elementary education major serves as student director.

Related: Furman University professor develops lifesaving humanitarian drones

One of her favorite Heller projects is preparing stuffed animals that greet children upon being admitted to Prisma Health’s Children’s Hospital.

It’s a simple activity—removing scarves and tags from a thousand new donated plush toys to make them safe for the kids. But that’s the point, Taylor said.

Barrett Taylor celebrates Homecoming at Furman University. One of her favorite projects for Heller Service Corps is preparing stuffed animals that greet children upon being admitted to Prisma Health’s Children’s Hospital.

“It doesn’t take a lot of time to do something that will have a lasting impact on a child,” she said. “I think Furman students might feel nervous about the time commitment for volunteering, which makes complete sense. But we make it so easy and inclusive. Just walk in, no need to fill out an application, just find a cool project and start.”

Since the onset of the pandemic, major events like the Fall Festival have been shelved. The event typically draws 600 children from underserved areas to campus for a day filled with games, carnival food and fun.

With the resources at Heller, the goal this year is to reach children in other ways, like making crafts for kids at Children’s Hospital and packaging crayons they can take home once they are discharged. “We are doing smaller, more intimate projects,” Taylor explained. “Every Thursday, we do a pop-up event where we write cards of appreciation for our public-school teachers, firefighters and others.”

Taylor said the smaller, more manageable volunteer projects are meaningful not only for the children, but also for Furman students. “I think the Furman bubble is very real,” Taylor said.

this photo shows a group of Heller Service Corps volunteers from Furman University working on an outdoors project on a chilly fall day.

Furman University students work on an outdoor project for Heller Service Corps.

Doing something that doesn’t take a lot of time—whether it’s writing a quick note of thanks to the maintenance or custodial staff on campus or making encouragement bracelets for hospitalized children—gives students a chance to step back from classes and exams and focus on things outside of Furman.

Taking an active role in the larger community is important, Taylor said. She grew up in Greenville and is a product of the county’s public schools, so she’s happy that Heller gives her a chance to give back to the community that gave so much to her.

Related: Canadian study suggests stereotypes about homeless people are wrong

For project inspiration, Taylor doesn’t need to go far. “There’s no one like Nancy Cooper,” she said of Heller Service Corps’ coordinator of volunteer services.

Known for her perfectly coiffed blond hair and eternal smile, Cooper has made an impression on Taylor and other volunteers at Heller.

“She’s one of those people you meet once in a lifetime, and you remember them for the rest of your life,” Taylor says. “She thinks so deeply about the world around her, and she also thinks about how we can have the most impact on Greenville as we possibly can.”

Nancy Cooper, Heller Service Corps’ coordinator of volunteer services at Sullivan Foundation partner school Furman University, gives out hugs and encouragement to volunteers.

This year, with students returning home before Thanksgiving break, the traditional Holiday Giving Tree has become the Blessings Tree. Paper leaves on six trees throughout campus contain wish list items from various local agencies. Everyone on campus is invited to take a leaf from the tree, purchase the item and drop it off at the Heller office in Trone Student Center.

On top of the campus community-donated gifts, Heller has received $5,000 from an anonymous donor to purchase items for the agencies. Heller volunteers will distribute gifts before the break.

For more inspiration, ideas and ways to give, contact Barrett Taylor at barrett.taylor@furman.edu, or Nancy Cooper at nancy.cooper@furman.edu.

This article has been edited slightly from the original version appearing on the Furman University website.

Erin Boyd Discusses Culdesac Tempe, a Car-Free Community, in Nov. 5 Ignite Masterclass

Virtually every town and city in the U.S. is designed with cars in mind, but what if you could build a car-free community where everything you need is within walking or biking distance? Erin Boyd knows how to do it, and she’ll share her ideas and expertise about building healthier, happier communities in the Sullivan Foundation’s next Ignite Masterclass.

The online masterclass, titled “Placemaking as a Tool for Community + Network Building,” is free and open to the public. It takes place from 4:15 to 5:30 p.m. (ET), on Thursday, Nov. 5. Click here to register for the class.

Boyd will lead class participants in a discussion of how to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces to serve as the heart of a community. She will also explore the role of physical, cultural and social identities that define a place and support its ongoing evolution.

Read more about the Sullivan Foundation’s Ignite Masterclasses here.

Faculty members and students from two universities will also participate in this Ignite Masterclass. They include Dr. Elena Kennedy of Sullivan Foundation partner school Elon University and her Introduction to Creativity and Doer/Maker Mindset class, as well as Valeri Werpetinski of the University of Illinois and her Illinois Impact Incubator students.

This picture shows Erin Boyd, the head of business operations for Culdesac Tempe, a car-free community in Tempe, Arizona

Erin Boyd of Culdesac

Boyd heads up business operations for Culdesac, a Tempe, Arizona, company that builds car-free neighborhoods from scratch. Boyd also cofounded Ashoka U, a global network for social entrepreneurship in higher education. Prior to joining Culdescac, she was head of partnerships for ChangeX, a platform that supports impact projects to build healthier communities.

Culdesac’s first project, Culdesac Tempe, is scheduled to launch next year. It’s a car-free rental apartment community described as a “five-minute city.” Culdesac Tempe will house 1,000 people in competitively priced apartment buildings that are mostly one-bedroom units. Plans call for restaurants, grocery stores, food trucks and even co-working spaces, all within a five-minute walk for residents.

Culdesac Tempe isn’t technically the first car-free community in U.S. history—cities, towns and neighborhoods built prior to the invention of the automobile were obviously car-free. But since the days of Henry Ford, the car has essentially dictated urban design. And while the automobile helped transform the U.S. into an economic powerhouse and made it easier for Americans to travel far and wide across a large, sprawling country, it has some downsides—traffic snarls, air and noise pollution, and large chunks of real estate dedicated to parking. As Fast Company notes, 40 percent of the land area in Seattle is used for parking, while New York City’s on-street parking spots alone take up the equivalent of a dozen Central Parks.

this photo shows a family that will be living in the car-free community of Culdesac Tempe in Tempe, Arizona.

The Kimbwala family, future residents of Culdesac Tempe, previously lived in the Netherlands in a similar community designed with people in mind.

In her Ignite Masterclass session, Boyd will talk about Culdesac’s innovative approach to car-free urban design. Instead of a landscape constructed for the movement and storage of hulking Chevy Suburbans and Ford F-150 pickup trucks, Culdesac aims to develop a community for the enjoyment of people. That means vibrant courtyards, wide, tree-lined walkways, active plazas and parks, as well as businesses that meet most of the residents’ everyday needs.

At the same time, the neighborhood will be accessible for emergency vehicles and delivery vehicles as well as designated pickup and drop-off locations for ride-shares. It will offer ample parking for visitors as well.

But the goal of Culdesac Tempe is to reinvent public spaces that are peaceful, quiet and laidback, minus all the traffic noise, pollution and hustle and bustle that make city life so stressful.

Sullivan Foundation to Host Social Entrepreneurship Opportunity Fair Nov. 16

Job opportunities are hard to come by for young college graduates pursuing careers as changemakers, especially during a pandemic. The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation plans to give them a head start with the upcoming Social Entrepreneurship Opportunity Fair, to be held online from 6-8 p.m. (ET), Monday, Nov. 16.

Click here to learn more and register for the free event.

The event, which is free and open to all recent college graduates or current students, takes place in conjunction with Global Entrepreneurship Week, scheduled for Nov. 16-22, 2020.

The Social Entrepreneurship Opportunity Fair will feature virtual “booths” manned by social-impact organization leaders around the nation. Some of the groups partnering on the event, to both share opportunities and promote it, include:

Attendees of the Social Entrepreneurship Opportunity Fair will have the chance to connect with social-impact organizations offering internships and jobs and meet representatives from socially minded companies looking to hire. They will also network and interact with social entrepreneurs to receive guidance and feedback.

“We’ve heard from lots of students who are struggling to find opportunities to get started in their changemaking careers,” said Spud Marshall, the Sullivan Foundation’s director of student engagement and organizer of the event. “We’re going to lean on the collective resources across our Sullivan network to help students connect with internships, jobs, education and service opportunities.”

The event will also serve as the culmination to the Sullivan Foundation’s Ignite Masterclass program, which launched this fall. Ignite Masterclasses offer weekly workshops and networking sessions taught by social innovation leaders from around the country.

Social innovators and business leaders who want to participate in the event can fill out a survey here with details on the opportunity they’re offering. If your organization would like to help promote the event, email Marshall at spud@sullivanfdn.org to learn more and to receive resources for sharing to your network.

 

Reading With a Rapper’s Jarren Small Leads Ignite Masterclass on Oct. 28

Jarren Small, the mastermind behind the Houston-based Reading With a Rapper program, will lead the Sullivan Foundation’s next Ignite Masterclass on Wednesday, Oct. 28.

The class, which is free and open to the public, is titled “Reimagining Education With Rappers + Corporate America.” Two sessions will be held from 1-2:15 p.m. (ET) and from 2:30-3:45 p.m. (ET).

Related: Jarren Small teaches ELA skills through hip-hop

Click here to register for Session 1 and click here to register for Session 2.

This masterclass will explore creative ways to pursue change within America’s education system through unlikely partnerships. Small is the co-founder of Reading With a Rapper, a venture that connects high-school students with rappers to strengthen their English Language Arts (ELA) skills. Since creating the program, Small has gone on to start a variety of side hustles that are creating impact in his community.

Small will help Ignite Masterclass attendees learn how to build partnerships and connect different parts of their passions to form their own side hustles.

Reading With a Rapper is an innovative educational curriculum focused on teaching ELA in a way that makes today’s young people sit up and listen. Students hone their reading and writing skills through a series of activities and exercises built around rap music with socially conscious lyrics, video content and technology. Students learn how to relate real-world concepts expressed in rap songs to literature and writing.

Students in classes taught by faculty members from three colleges and universities will also participate in this Ignite Masterclass session. The faculty members include Tonia Warnecke, Ph.D., of Rollins College; Scott Kelly of Campbell University; and Valeri Werpetinski of the University of Illinois.

Click here to learn more about the Sullivan Foundation’s Ignite Masterclass program.

Duke’s Imari Walker Uses YouTube to Explain Dangers of Plastic Water Bottles in Entertaining Fashion

More and more Americans recognize that plastic is a problem, but Imari Walker Karega, a PhD student at Sullivan Foundation partner school Duke University, has a knack for explaining it in accessible terms—and for dispelling myths and misconceptions about environmental issues.

And Walker gets the message out using one of the world’s most popular social media platforms—YouTube—through short, engaging videos that focus on the science of water quality and microplastics while also offering tips for getting into college and thriving while you’re there.

Walker earned her undergraduate degree in marine science from the University of California-Berkeley and is presently a researcher in the lab of Duke University environmental engineer Lee Ferguson. She studies the fate of plastic components as they break down and disperse in the environment.

One of Walker’s major worries: plastic water bottles. Many consumers believe bottled water is safer to drink than tap water—and they’re wrong. “The biggest concern is that you don’t know where that bottle of water has been before it ends up in your hand,” she said. “It could have been sitting in a warehouse or the back of a truck, in the heat—which speeds the plastic’s disintegration—for a long time. I worry about the chemicals and the microplastics that could be in there when you consume the water. And then we’re also polluting the environment with the empty bottle. It’s a double whammy.”

Part of Walker’s dissertation work is conducted at the CEINT Mesocosm Facility in Duke Forest, where she doses a simulated wetland ecosystem with microplastics to discover where they will eventually settle out. The water is full of the UV inhibitors that are added to plastic during the manufacturing process, Walker said, and the fish see tiny bits of plastic as tasty prey—and gobble them down.

According to Walker, the environment inside an animal’s stomach can cause some harmful chemicals to be released at higher concentrations than they would in seawater. She has used non-target mass spectrometry, a form of chemical forensic science, to find that high concentrations of surfactants, lubricants and biocides leach from plastic items commonly found on beaches, including balloons, trash bags, Styrofoam cups, and fishing line.

It’s well-known that some of these plastic additives can affect your health—like BPA, which can bind to estrogen receptors and influence bodily processes. The effects of hundreds of other plastic additives are still unknown.

But Walker said it’s difficult to make recommendations for alternativeslike reverse osmotic filtration systems in place of plastic bottles—when they are often expensive. “‘Environmentally friendly’ is not cost-effective,” she said. “It’s elitist, in a way, and it’s hard to encourage people to do good things when they’re not accessible.

On her Youtube channel, Walker delves into the topics she studies, including water quality and chemical exposure from consumer products. But the videos are not geared toward other scientists—instead, they’re produced for a broad range of ages and knowledge levels. “I feel like we researchers have been living in a little bit of a bubble when we go into our labs and interact mostly with other researchers,” she said. “The public needs to understand what environmental engineering is, what a researcher does, what our findings are and what the implications are for daily life.”

Her videos also focus on higher education, paying special attention to people in their teens who might be thinking about college. In recent years she served as a mentor for SENSOR Saturday Academy, which helps underrepresented Durham, N.C. middle-school students explore STEM through real-life water quality projects.

“For me personally, it’s important to communicate this work in a public-facing way because I didn’t see many black female environmental engineers—I’ve only met two or three, ever,” said WalkerI wanted to be that change and inspire others to think about this field.”

You can learn more about Walker at her website.

This article was adapted from a press release appearing on the Duke University website.

Akimbo’s Free Emerging Leaders Program Helps College Students Channel Their Changemaking Powers

If your pandemic summer’s shaping up to be a bummer, a five-day online workshop series for college-student leaders and changemakers could turn it around—and it won’t cost you a dime.

Akimbo’s Emerging Leaders Program launched in June with 100 students looking to learn the real skills they need to thrive in the working world—and channel their own changemaking powers. It was such a success that Akimbo will offer it again from Monday, August 3, through Friday, August 7, 2020.

Interested students must apply for the program before midnight, Monday, July 6. Click here to learn more and fill out an application.

The program is free, but spots are limited. Finalists will be contacted via email by Thursday, July 9, and a mandatory group call of all finalists will be held at 10 a.m. (ET) on either Monday, July 13, or Tuesday, July 14. Students will receive notice of acceptance on Wednesday, July 15.

The project-based program is designed for fulltime undergraduate college students from the sophomore level up to 2020 graduates. It’s run by two Akimbo coaches with a passion for helping students embrace the unknown and discover their own ability to make change. “It’s really all about leaning into the possibility ahead,” said Taylor Harrington, who manages the program. “There’s no rubric for the projects.”

“This program could be the thing that helps Sullivan students realize, ‘This is what it takes to help me get where I want to go. This is the path I should take. This is the first step. And I don’t have to do it alone,’” Harrington said. “When we ran this program in June 2020, students found their tribe. I had one student reach out and share how reassuring it felt that there were people out there, other college students, who also question the status quo, who want to push the boundaries of what’s possible, who were searching for a community of like-minded peers to support them.”

Founded by entrepreneur, author and blogger Seth Godin, Akimbo offers a range of online workshops that include the four-week altMBA program focused on leadership and management. According to the company’s website, Akimbo’s workshops are “about bending the culture, about speaking up and being heard. We believe that each of us has more power than ever before to see the world as it is, to contribute and to make things better.”

The Emerging Leaders group will meet online through Zoom starting at 10 a.m. (ET) each day. The program includes a few hours of group conversation led by the coaches, followed by intensive work on daily team projects—the exact nature of which can’t be revealed in advance, Harrington said. “I can say they’re open enough that everyone will be able to relate to them and interpret them differently,” she said. “The assignments won’t be silly group projects about something students aren’t interested in. Students will be asked to talk about themselves within the projects and the change they want to make in the world.”

Recalling the June program, Harrington said, “Students spent a lot of time together. The projects helped them dig deep, to leave with more questions than they had at the beginning of the week. There aren’t any case studies. This is about the students, their work and where they want to go … They find the answers within themselves and each other.”

One participant, Kimia Tabatabaei, said the June program taught her “what it means to be a lynchpin, the type of leader whose magic and authenticity and commitment to a purpose bring value to every place they enter. And I’ve learned that being that leader doesn’t require any permission. All you need is to choose yourself, to trust yourself and to believe that you have the power to step up and start making that change.”

Natalie Esparza participated in the Emerging Leaders workshop program in June. (LinkedIn photo)

Natalie M. Esparza, another participant, agreed. “No matter how old you are, no matter where you are in the world, you can take ownership of making change happen. You can ask for help from anyone in the world who’s just as passionate as you, and you can make things that didn’t exist a week ago that are powerful and life-changing.”

Since many Sullivan-affiliated students have already built their own network of like-minded changemakers through the Ignite Retreats, field trips and study-abroad adventures, Akimbo’s Emerging Leaders Program offers a chance to cast their net even further. “Last time we had students from all over the world join us, including students from Australia who switched their sleep schedule to dedicate time to this,” Harrington said. “Experiencing ‘aha!’ moments with students from around the world whom you’ve never met in person is something magical.”