Mitzi Elizabeth Gonazalez Medrano

Mitzi is a guest contributor for Ashoka U's Student Changemaker Stories campaign. She is a current undergraduate student at Universidad de Monterrey and supports a variety of their changemaking initiatives.

Celebrating UDEM’s Community of Student Changemakers

This blog is part of Ashoka U’s Student Changemaker Stories: a campaign bringing together diverse student changemaker perspectives to shift the narrative around what it means to be a changemaker and who can be one – on campus and beyond. Each story concludes with a note of gratitude and call-to-action from the author.

You may have seen my friend Diego’s blog post speaking about us hosting UDEM’s first-ever “Student Changemaker Weekend.”

I often think back to this important event. I recall Diego was controlling the presentation slides from his iPad, our teammate Joyce was running to find the next speaker, and I was also running, to see how our other workshops were going. The Student Changemaker Weekend was coming to an end.

We could all feel there was an incredible energy that allowed everything to happen and come together. Even though each of us faced our challenges and problems during the event, it marked the start of a new collaboration between students.

Partaking in Ashoka U’s Changemaker Campus Community

At this time, we saw the results of a whole year of preparation for this event. It was made possible by the Network Advisory Council Fund for Changemaker Campuses – we were provided a grant with three other Changemaker Campuses to bring together students across our Mexican campuses.

The end of our Student Changemaker Weekend, with staff, some ambassadors of the event and the organizing team.

Together, we worked on this inter-university collaboration promoting changemaker values, mindset, and practices.

As I gave the farewell speech for the weekend, I could feel the presence and powerful collaboration of all the student changemakers who came together to make this happen. It felt like the beginning. We were committed to come together as social innovators to make a network and a community that could invite more people to join, and we were also committed to our impact.

Reflecting on My Beginning as a Changemaker

The Scouts Movement is a global organization focused on educating young people to become leaders of social change and to became active citizens. When I was 8 years old, my parents uniformed me as Scout in Tijuana, Mexico. Little did I know that this was the beginning of my changemaking path.

My parents loved the Scouts and I learned from them how to love it, too. When I was 15 years old, I made my first step as a changemaker with friends from high school. We made the Tijuana Teen Art event to showcase youth talent for the arts. We also used the opportunity to raise money to donate to the fight against cancer.

Through our work, we won the Prize of Youth on Social Work (Premio Estatal de la Juventud) in Baja California. Later we ran a second edition of the Tijuana Teen Art event, while I was simultaneously entering my first semester as an undergraduate student at Universidad de Monterrey.

Drivers of Change

While at UDEM, I received the opportunity to enter Drivers of Change, an interdisciplinary, international collaboration program focus on service and academic development over eight semesters.

Through my participation in Drivers of Change, we have worked on a number of social innovation projects that cross disciplines and encourage students to pursue high-impact social projects in a supportive community. Areas of my focus have included rebuilding community social tissue with children and women, with a focus on teamwork and collaboration.

The program also brings us into collaboration with international-level change projects. We have been working to develop new solutions for food waste in Costa Rica, by collaborating with and supporting an existing project in there.

Meeting Inspirational Friends in Changemaking Communities

I met Diego thanks to the student group, Enactus, where he was serving as President. One year later, we worked together to develop the Student Changemaker Weekend with other classmates of UDEM, ITESM in Guadalajara, and UPAEP in Puebla.

This initiative brought together a variety of students to develop solutions for connecting and increasing the activity of changemakers in each university. After we were awarded by Ashoka U to make the Student Changemaker Weekend happen, our collaboration with students, teachers, and our community grew rapidly.

Our goal was to create an event that would inspire other people to join the changemaker movement and gain their own experience of it through different experiential activities. The Student Changemaker Weekend was the first social entrepreneurship and social innovation “meeting point” that our university had made with students from other campuses in Mexico.

Why We Must Collaborate as Teams of Students 

Me and Diego presenting one of our social innovation projects, The Social Bond.

When UDEM supported three students, myself included, to attend the 2019 Ashoka U Exchange, we celebrated and presented on our work. Because of this experience, we got inspiration and validation to build “The Social Bond Innovation Project” – we aim to create a changemaker culture through by making it more accessible, practicing our skills together, and producing physical, in-person community for changemakers on campus.

Diego and I have now partnered with our mentor and friend, Yanniz, who directs the Yunus Innovation Pathway Center for disruptive social business ideas. Recently I’ve prototyped a new project, Bluhm, dedicated to making sustainability easier through urban farming.

As I imagine how every campus can grow changemaking opportunities, I know through my own experience that collaboration is key. We must have role models around us who inspire us and show us a path, but we must also have peers around us who accompany and strengthen the process.

Embracing our interdependence and shared strength has also increased the impact of our projects and welcomes more people into them. When I look around UDEM, I know that we are embodying this value and I am committed to ensuring that more students feel invited to participate in changemaking in the future.

Closing Words from Mitzi

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