Fred Swaniker is an African entrepreneur born in Ghana, that is rapidly changing the way we look at education in Africa. He is actively working towards using innovative education models to address Africa’s biggest looming challenge: that in the next 6000 some days, Africa will have the largest and youngest population globally.

At the Buffett Institute for Global Studies where I serve, we award $10,000 annually to leading global minds that are paving the way in their different fields with a socially just mindset. This year the Northwestern undergraduates nominated Mr.Fred Swaniker who we brought to campus to receive the award. I had previously heard rumors about the great work that he was doing while in high school when a select few were recruited to be part of the African Leadership Academy that he was starting at the time. However, to sit across him and listen to his vision in person was a whole other perspective altering opportunity!

There are 5 things that stuck with me from listening to him speak that apply to all budding change-makers:

  1. Choose to be bothered! There are global challenges on all kinds of scales within our communities and we, from the very fact of being alive have the capacity to do something about something!
  2. Understand the challenges around you! Ignorance is no defense when it comes to change-making… one of my biggest take-aways from serving at Northwestern is that if you don’t understand something, take it upon yourself to research and find out.
  3. Every challenge is an opportunity! There is a lot going wrong in life generally but these needs are actually opportunities to innovate … Necessity is after all the mother of invention.
  4. Choose a mission that aligns with your passion… I look at this two way; First, understand yourself… Who are you? Why are you the way you are? What are your values? What do you believe in? Second, reflection is key…. What big and small, good and bad experiences have you had that stuck with you? What skillsets have you developed through your experiences? Fred posed a question I found intriguing: What patterns can you see from all your past experiences and how might these patterns be shaping your purpose?
  5. Get started! Thinking is GREAT but acting is BEST!

A lot of the 5 things above are not new to be honest, but sometimes, it’s important to pause and go back to basics just to remember your why. Listening to Fred Swaniker’s vision, I felt re-energized to strive forward with my dream of providing a global perspective for children in rural Kenya and across Africa.  I hope he inspires you too!







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