Beeta Ansari

Beeta is Ashoka U’s Exchange Director, the world’s largest global convening for social entrepreneurship education.

Changemaker of the Week: Elise Hopkins

Elise Hopkins, a student at UNC Chapel Hill, discusses her work with Unified Theater, an organization devoted to bringing together youth from diverse backgrounds with a common love for the arts.

Elise is being featured as part of Ashoka U’s new series, “Changemaker of the Week” which highlights extraordinary student changemakers in college and graduate programs around the world. Check the Ashoka U blog each week for a story of a new Changemaker of the Week!

1) What is Unified Theater?
Unified Theater, Inc., is an organization that supports programs for kids and young adults of all abilities to work together as equals to write and produce their own theatrical productions. It is a completely student-led program.

2) How did you get involved with Unified Theater?
I got involved when I was 11, when Unified Theater’s founder did my makeup for a school play and told me about how meaningful her program is. I wanted to get involved immediately! The next year, I started Unified Theater’s first middle school program.

3) How has being a college student changed the way you act as a Changemaker?
Being in college has opened my eyes up to the importance of diversity. Putting myself in a new community where people differ significantly in terms of backgrounds and beliefs has instilled in me a belief that we must interact with people of all types to learn about each other, ourselves, and the world.

4) What is the best part of working on your venture?
The absolute best part of working for Unified Theater is seeing the relationships formed between students of all abilities, backgrounds, and interests. The stereotypical cliquey high school experience does not exist in our programs. We use the arts to break down barriers. Seeing those barriers dissolve is the highlight of every experience for me.

5) What is one piece of advice you’d give to any college student thinking of becoming a Changemaker?
The advice I would give to every future college Changemaker is to ask everyone you can possibly think of, for advice. We are still young and inexperienced. We need to build a network of resources that is filled with people who believe in our vision and want to help us achieve it!

6) How has your school or school’s social entrepreneurship initiative helped you progress as a student social innovator and in this venture?
UNC-Chapel Hill is a very entrepreneurship-focused campus. I have countless friends who have gotten on board with this fresh, innovative, life-changing program and want to share their skills. Entrepreneurs get excited about fresh ideas and are more than willing to get them going.

More information about Elise will also be featured on social media this week, so be sure to follow Ashoka U on Twitter and Facebook