Changemaker inspires high school students to make a difference

“Surreal” was how Miguel Marin described his recent visit to Changemaker Central on the ASU Tempe campus.

“In class we always talk about college, but now we are here and it’s tangible,” said Marin, a senior at Coronado High School in Scottsdale, who was able to visit the campus thanks to his school's Jobs for Arizona Graduates (JAG) program.

A recent collaboration between Changemaker Central and JAG brought more than 80 high school students from five area high schools to the Tempe campus, Nov. 30, to learn about the university and its many opportunities to get involved and make a difference.

Established in 1990, JAG is a nonprofit organization that works with at-risk youth in schools throughout Arizona. JAG provides in-school support to students to help make high school more meaningful and encourage them to graduate and enter college. For many of the JAG students, it was their first time visiting a college campus.

“I always had a thought of what college would be and to actually experience it is pretty amazing," said Brittany Case, a junior, also from Coronado. Case added that her favorite parts of the trip were the tour of campus and the group activities in Changemaker Central.

The JAG students had a full day at ASU. In the morning, they arrived in Changemaker Central and heard opening remarks. Gozie Ibeji, a senior at ASU and the external relations chair on the student leadership team for Changemaker Central, related his own experiences of overcoming adversity after immigrating to Arizona with his family from Nigeria and transferring from a community college to ASU.

Ibeji said that getting involved with Changemaker helped provide him with a support network. He added that he hopes his work creates a place where students become more involved in service, service-learning and entrepreneurship, in addition to helping future students feel welcome at ASU.

The day continued with a panel from SPARKS (Students Providing Awareness, Resources, and Knowledge to Start College). Then, there was a campus tour from Devil’s Advocates, followed by a discussion of 10,000 Solutions – a Changemaker signature program – and a final reflection activity.

The goal of the day was for students to come away from the experience not only excited about the prospect of being a Sun Devil but also about being changemakers in their own schools and communities.

Dianna Harrier, a field services coordinator with JAG, said that this trip was “both motivating and empowering to our students – to see so many of their JAG peers who are also excited to pursue a university education."