Lian Kariuki ‘15 recently attended a special meeting in New York with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. She was one of three Global Youth Ambassadors to deliver a petition signed by 1.5 million people calling for a new international funding plan for education through the launch of the International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd), a Multilateral Development Bank (MDB) investment mechanism. The group, representing a network of 700 activists from more than 80 countries, advocated the IFFEd would help to address the needs of millions of young people worldwide that are significantly disadvantaged because they do not have access to education. The IFFEd would mobilize $10 billion or more in funding to help marginalized children to get into school – an estimated 20 million children in its initial stage alone. Following the presentation of the signatures, Lian had a joint radio interview with former British Prime Minister and UN education envoy Gordon Brown.
This issue is personal for Lian, who is currently working towards a Master’s in Public Administration at New York University and came to Green Mountain College as a Make a Difference (MAD) Scholar in 2011. Her success in life may not have been possible without this scholarship opportunity.
Lian’s outstanding commitment to empowering the disadvantaged and working to create a better society made her the perfect candidate for the MAD scholarship. When she arrived in Poultney, she arrived with a world of advocacy experience in hand. While still in high school in Nairobi, Kenya, she was accepted into the Oxfam International Youth Partnership program as a Kenyan Ambassador to India. She returned from India to Kenya, at the age of 19, with a plan to begin a nonprofit called Adopted Dreams for the Kenyan Youth living in slums. With the help of other young professionals, Lian taught vocational skills to youth and women. As part of the Women Empowerment program at Adopted Dreams, she helped women create eco-friendly shopping bags, so that they could save money from what they sold as “an investment in their dreams of school or to take care of their family.”
The adjustment to Green Mountain College, however, wasn’t easy. Her home of Nairobi, Kenya has a population 3.1 million. Before arriving in Poultney, Lian imagined all of the U.S. would be New York City or Hollywood – those images she had seen growing up in media and movies. As she phrased it, arriving in Poultney was “double culture shock”.
In retrospect, Lian admits, GMC was what exactly what she needed. The intimate community of GMC allowed her to connect with her professors, explore her passions, and be focused on her goals and preparing for the future. An active member of the campus community, Lian served as Vice President of the UNICEF U.S. Campus Initiative, Co-Head Delegate to the National Model U.N., and was a member of the GMC Diversity Committee. During her tenure with the Model UN, the GMC team won Upstanding Delegation as well as Best Paper in the environmental program at Model UN.
Always keeping an eye of the future, Lian also took full advantage of the resources available through Career Services while on campus and after graduation. In addition to connecting her with meaningful internship and research opportunities in Boston and Washington, D.C., and assisting her with applying for financial aid and grants to pay for her education and summer stipends, she found support and assistance from Career Services Director, Serena Eddy, in getting into New York University, which she considers her “dream graduate school.”
Lian will complete her degree at NYU in May 2019, and, not surprisingly, already has job offers pending. It is likely she will dedicate her time to her own social entrepreneurship public impact company, Loocid Global, which focuses on global education programs and ethical manufacturing.
Her advice to current GMC students? “There are many things to do at GMC and you may not see the impact now, but later you will see how the dots connect to other opportunities in the future.” She emphasizes that this is the best time to experiment with what you would enjoy in the future. She encourages students to get different internships, volunteer, talk to people, talk to GMC alumni and try all different clubs. “It’s the best space to make mistakes and to learn from them and to take risks. College is the time to experiment wisely.”
If you enjoyed reading about Lian, help us to connect with other GMC alumni with inspiring stories. Contact Kerri Munro at firstname.lastname@example.org.