Kevin Ross discusses the importance of global citizenship at Columbia University
Published Oct. 11, 2010
President Kevin M. Ross recently spoke to hundreds of student leaders in New York City about the importance of being committed to service as a global citizen. The speech was part of the Closing Plenary of the Millennium Campus Conference 2010 held at Columbia University. It was organized by the Millennium Campus Network, Inc. (MCN)—a national network of student organizations dedicated to the eradication of extreme poverty and the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals.
President Ross was invited by Sam Vaghar, MCN executive director, because, as he stated in his invite, “I believe the resilience and commitment to service demonstrated by the Lynn community could be a powerful story to share with student leaders from across the nation. If Lynn can create the Global Citizenship Memorial Fund, then it can show other students and universities nationwide how much more we can all do in committing ourselves to public service.”
Ross took the opportunity to focus on the importance of continuing the work of the four students and two professors lost during the January 2010 earthquake—Stephanie Crispinelli, Courtney Hayes, Britney Gengel, Christine Gianacaci, Patrick Hartwick and Richard Bruno.
“What happened in Haiti was unfathomable and incomprehensible—and beyond a doubt unpredictable—but we will continue to offer international educational and service opportunities to our students,” Ross said. “It is our responsibility to be active participants in the global society not just as a university, but as members of the human race.”
President Ross paid tribute to them by telling their story of service. “The group of individuals that went on this trip did more than just stand up for those who could not—they stood beside them and helped them rise up.”
He pointed out that they got to work right away, “They only arrived in Haiti a day before the deadly earthquake struck, but that was enough time for them to make a difference at the Little Children of Jesus Handicapped Home and the Maison d’ Amour Girls Orphanage and School,” Ross said. “Just hours before the earthquake, Britney texted her mother and said that she had found her life’s calling. She wanted to return to Haiti to set up a children’s orphanage.
President Ross went on to say the earthquake caused a lot of trauma to all of Lynn’s students, faculty and staff, but that “in the aftermath of this great tragedy, we received hundreds of letters, phone calls and offers of support from all corners of the globe—everything from thoughtful messages to donations of planes. And we are so grateful for all of those who came forward.”
He then discussed the many ways those lost in the earthquake will be remembered. There will be a permanent memorial on campus, Food For The Poor will construct a “Journey of Hope” memorial village in Haiti and Lynn has established the Global Citizenship Scholarship Memorial Fund, which will provide Lynn students the opportunity to experience educational and service opportunities focusing on communities and cultures in need.
President Ross wrapped up his thoughts by saying, “The six members of our university family did not live, nor die, in vain. United as a campus, we now stand for Dr. Hartwick, Dr. Bruno, Stephanie, Britney, Christine and Courtney—and all that they stood for,” Ross said. “Together, we are dedicated to carrying on their work and keeping their story—their compassion, commitment and courage—alive for future generations.”