April 08, 2013

ASU grad student wins innovation challenge at Clinton Global Initiative University

Posted: April 08, 2013
ASU's Davier Rodriguez and Liz Cantu pose with President Bill Clinton and Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert. Rodriguez was announced the winner of the innovation challenge in St. Louis, April 6.

President Bill Clinton announced ASU graduate student Davier Rodriguez the winner of the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) "Sweet 16" Commitments Challenge at Washington University in St. Louis, Saturday, April 6, at a closing event that featured a live interview and Q&A session between Clinton, CGI U's namesake, and Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert.

At CGI U, “March Madness” is not about basketball: 16 entrepreneurs went head to head in an ideas competition decided by public vote. Rodriguez’s ASU innovation DREAMzone was selected as a top 16 Commitment to Action and went on to win the bracket competition of social innovation, enterprise and sustainability ideas.

DREAMzone aims to establish a national network of allies to support undocumented students. Rodriguez said he was excited to receive the award and see his team's hard work pay off.

Pursuing a master's degree in education and public administration, Rodriguez co-founded the venture, in part, because he believes "university faculty, staff and administrators have an obligation to serve our student body, and that obligation includes having an understanding of the experiences and needs of all students, especially our most vulnerable.”

"I definitely am devoted to higher education and advancing higher education," he said.

Arizona State University is one of 33 colleges and universities that joined the CGI U Network and has committed to support, mentor and provide seed funding to ASU student entrepreneurs.

Finally, Rodriguez said he was glad to have met President Clinton: "It was exciting and an honor. President Clinton is someone I admire."

CGI U was launched to bring together the next generation of leaders on college campuses around the world. Students who attend have the opportunity to meet with fellow student entrepreneurs and build a network of like-minded individuals. To attend the meeting, students must develop a Commitment to Action plan that addresses a specific challenge in one of the five focus areas: education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health.