Gordon State College Partners With IREX on Grant From the Stevens Initiative, Team Selected as Top Three Finalist

On Wednesday, Dec. 15, students from Gordon State College and Duhok Polytechnic University in Duhok, Iraq pitched their business idea before a panel of experts for a chance to win a grant reward to launch their initiative. These students have placed in the top three finalist teams of the Global Solutions Sustainability Challenge. This challenge is a program supported by the Stevens Initiative, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, administered by the Aspen Institute and implemented by IREX.

Students participating in the Global Solutions Sustainability Challenge, including GSC student, Susan Hoffman as the project manager and director, have worked on the recycling initiative with the winning tag line, “Think Globally, Act Locally.” Their team, Nawroz EDGE, presented live at the Virtual Global Business Expo. Other students from the team include Tabish Ghani, Aeneas Cantey, Kennisha Davis, Joba Duke, Taslimah Harris, Tomeshya Jones, Christina McKissick and Jessica Mitchell.

“By participating in the Global Solutions Challenge, students gained an understanding of the United Nations 17 goals for sustainability and learned about being a global citizen, strengthening problem solving skills, gaining cross-cultural collaboration and competency skills, and developing job readiness skills through online collaboration. Through this process, students learned about personal responsibility and how people’s humanity transcends country borders. I am proud of the work of the Kurdish and American students, and the bonds they created during the process. All these students are extraordinary,” said Dr. Christy Flatt, Professor of Sociology and Campus Representative, USG Goes Global.

Gordon State College is one of 71 academic institutions selected to participate. As participants of the Global Solutions Sustainability Challenge, the Nawroz EDGE team have been a part of a global community working to build mutual understanding through virtual exchange. Over the course of eight weeks, each team investigated the impact of global issues in local communities, and collaborated with binational teammates across the globe to create and design a sustainable business concept and prototype. They have unlocked potential from Iraq and Jordan to the USA.

IREX is a global development and nonprofit education organization. The organization works with partners in more than 100 countries in four areas essential to progress which includes empowering youth, cultivating leaders, strengthening institutions and extending access to quality education and information.

The purpose of the global challenge includes community college and university students from the U.S. and technical college and university students from Iraq and Jordan to come together to solve global challenges in their communities. The program improves global citizenship, strengthens problem-solving skills and develops enduring connections, while enhancing students’ job skills through online collaboration.

The GSC students placed third, and they will be receiving $1,000 in prize funds. The funds will be used to provide recycle bins for Duhok Polytechnic University. At this time, the university does not recycle or use refillable bottles.

“Our students really displayed the “edge” during the global solutions challenge. Their resilience and agile mindset positioned them to be among the top three finalists. Consistent leadership and collaboration with our binational partners confirmed that this cohort is ready for the workforce. I couldn’t be more proud of our amazing students who focused on excellence,” said Dr. Tonya Moore, Athletics Director and Director of Career Services.

The Stevens Initiative, supporter of the challenge, was created in 2015. The initiative is committed to helping expand the virtual exchange field through three pillars of work which includes investing in promising programs, sharing knowledge and resources and advocating for virtual exchange adoption. It is also supported by the Bezos Family Foundation and the governments of Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.