By Natasha Gaye
Rollins College Holt Student
Event Coordinator and Internal Liasion for the Innovation Hub
This all started in October of 2015, when I began my position as the Event Coordinator for the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Hub, and was introduced to Ashoka U. It was a lot to wrap my head around at the time but the information was more than welcomed. I always wanted to participate in something that continued to drive my passion for service leadership and working with the Innovation Hub (for short) gave me the opportunity to do just that. I would have never imagined that by the summer of 2016 I would contribute to writing Rollins College’s Ashoka U Renewal Report.
Throughout my time at the Innovation Hub I learned more about Ashoka U and how our office held the responsibility of overseeing Rollins’ Ashoka U Changemaker Campus designation. It was so gratifying to work with a wonderful diverse team of individuals that shared a goal of building pathways to social innovation and entrepreneurship, within the Rollins community.
As spring semester began and continued I helped support our office and a task-force that was assembled with the focus set on our renewal visit that was scheduled for March 2016. It was such a pleasure being a part of the process as I got to speak with many members of Rollins faculty, staff about social innovation, entrepreneurship, research, and sustainability within Rollins and the community it supports.
When our renewal visit came and went, I was notified about a Fellowship Position at the Innovation Hub over the summer of 2016 to assist as writing Rollins College’s renewal report. After applying and receiving the position, I was more than honored and ecstatic to have the opportunity to work on something so significant for my college. I began by creating the skeleton of the report by working closely with Dr. Mary Conway Dato-on, the Innovation Hub’s Faculty Director. We analyzed a response letter from Ashoka U that was sent after the site visit concluded. We also reviewed President Cornwell’s reply letter that mentioned specific initiatives from the strengths and weaknesses that were discussed in the response letter from Ashoka U. This along with renewal criteria helped to create the foundation of the report. We looked at the noted strengths and weaknesses, criteria for renewal, and matched them with the goal objectives that were created by the Ashoka U Renewal Taskforce Committee.
Over four months we built the renewal report around the commitment of renewal which provided Rollins the chance to revitalize students, faculty, and staff around the college’s shared mission of educating global citizens and responsible leaders. With an enhanced emphasis and deeply committed senior leadership and the strong foundation of Rollins’ institutional strengths (e.g., internationalization, innovative academic work, community engagement, and strong philanthropic ties) we aimed to catalyze the growth and integration of social innovation, entrepreneurship, and sustainability throughout Rollins. Within the report we realized Rollins would need to generate capacity, build up our changemaking pathways, create our story, and grow areas of opportunity within field leadership that we could bring the message to shine bright within our local and global communities.
Although the process was rigorous, the end result of assisting my college in passing renewal and continuing to hold its status of being an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus was worth all of the time and dedication that I put into our process of renewal. Learning more about my college and being a part of a community that strives to be changemakers in every area of practice, has forever shaped my perspective and ignited a passion to be a part of a movement, an emotion understand between individuals that yearn to design the positive change that our earth greatly needs.