How Naperville College Helps Students Become 'Changemakers'

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), August 19, 2018 | Go to article overview

How Naperville College Helps Students Become 'Changemakers'


Byline: Madhu Krishnamurthy mkrishnamurthy@dailyherald.com

Lyndsay Hartman always wanted to change the world. And she's doing it one needle at a time.

Having once dated a heroin addict and worked with drug users, Hartman wanted to help them be safe while dealing with their addictions.

The 30-year-old sociology student at North Central College in Naperville started a needle exchange program in Kane County out of her Batavia home this spring. Her goal is to help intravenous drug users get access to clean supplies and overdose prevention drugs at no cost through partnerships with social service agencies and nonprofits.

Hartman got the idea for the needle exchange after taking a social impact entrepreneurship class and participating in NCC's "Changemaker Challenge" last winter. She was among eight finalists pitching ideas for businesses or nonprofits with a social change component and among four students who won funding to launch their projects.

Social entrepreneurship -- finding innovative solutions to pressing social problems -- is an emerging field of study.

NCC's Center for Social Impact launched last November offers "changemaking pathways" for students to explore social issues and be change leaders while earning their degrees.

"The primary purpose is to solve a social problem," center co-director Jeremy Gudauskas said. "The movement of social entrepreneurship has really happened within the last 10 years in higher education. Traditionally, the models were you start a business to make money or you start a nonprofit to solve social problems. The lines are getting blurred and there's hybrid ways of thinking ... you can actually do both."

Social awareness

The concept of social entrepreneurship especially appeals to millennials -- the generation born between 1980 and the mid-2000s and the largest segment of the nation's population, overtaking baby boomers. Millennials are more tech savvy having grown up in the age of internet, more educated and far more diverse than previous generations of Americans -- more than 44 percent belong to a minority race or ethnic group, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

"Millennials and those even coming up after them are very socially aware," Gudauskas said. …

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