This year Purdue Universityâ€™s Project IMPACT hosted seven events on Purdue’s campus this school year that allow students and community members to interact with policymakers, journalists, entrepreneurs and more.
Project IMPACT was the â€śbrainchildâ€ť of Ambassador Carolyn Curiel that grew out of her fall 2009 class, Women in the White House.
Curiel wanted a way to involve students directly in civic engagement and high level networking and encourage discussion of national issues. She engaged the help of undergraduate and graduate students to coordinate events that brought world class guests to Purdue to participate in forums and interact with students on a personal level.
The groupâ€™s first effort was the Women in the White House series which featured three women who had served in executive positions.Â The first session in this series consisted of Purdue alum and founder and CEO of C-SPAN Brian Lamb interviewing Curiel, a presidential speechwriter during the Clinton administration.Â The series also brought in Ambassador Carmen Lomellin, the current U.S. Ambassador of the Organization of American States, and Dr. Connie Mariano, a White House physician to three presidents and author of â€śWhite House Doctor.â€ť
Project IMPACT has since expanded from hosting forums to include a Maymester class that brings undergraduate and graduate students to Washington D.C. for the chance to go to the decision makers and work closely in the heart of it all.
â€śIt is two weeks long and a unique experience for Purdue students,â€ť Curiel said.Â â€śWe stay a few blocks from the White House and have a partnership with C-SPAN.â€ť
Throughout this year, Project IMPACT hosted seven events that brought guests from all over the country to involve members of the community and Purdue students in discussions on matters of national importance.Â Forum topics included social media and a Bloomberg forum about the economy.
Theon Hill, a graduate assistant for the project, said he has learned a lot from working with the organization.
â€śItâ€™s been great to work with Ambassador Curiel,â€ť Hill said.Â â€śWe meet every week and exchange emails.Â Iâ€™ve had to balance multiple roles and pay attention to details in the planning of events.â€ť
Graduate student Lincoln McKinley also worked closely with Project IMPACT this year and feels that it is a great opportunity for those involved with the organization, as well as those who attend the events.
â€śIt gives them the opportunity to engage with influential from all over that they would not otherwise be able to engage in a one-on-one setting,â€ť McKinley said.Â Â Â â€śFor the student body at large, it gives them the opportunity to just watch the speakers in person and ask questions.â€ť
McKinley says his favorite guest this year has been Lamb because he feels a connection with him.
â€śI love to teach and love students, and Brian Lamb is the same way,â€ť McKinley said.Â â€śHe loves to engage the students, and is one of the most important alumni, including all of the astronauts.â€ť
After a successful year of events, those most involved with coordinating the events seem relieved for a break until next fall.Â While neither of the graduate assistants for the project will be returning, they both agree that they will definitely attend future events.
As for whatâ€™s next, Curiel said everyone should be aware of Project IMPACT and watch for the events that they sponsor.
â€śStay tuned â€“ weâ€™re only limited by our imagination and the appetite that Purdue students have for these events,â€ť Curiel said.
Written by Samantha Scott
Senior, Public Relations/Advertising