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Human Rights Activist John Prendergast Motivates Students to Make a Difference

Posted by: Erin Blevins | February 19, 2014 | No Comment |

PrendergastatConvocation2014 On Friday, February 14, 2014, human rights activist John Prendergast shared, “10 Building Blocks for Making a Difference:  In Africa and in Your Own Neighborhood,” with an audience of over 200 students, faculty, staff and community members.  He was this year’s Political Science Convocation of Majors’ speaker. 

Prendergast is a best-selling author who has worked for peace in Africa for more than 25 years.  He is also the co-founder of the Enough Project, an initiative to end genocide and crimes against humanity affiliated with the Center for American Progress.  With the Enough Project, Prendergast has traveled to Africa with celebrities like George Clooney and NBA star Tracy McGrady, as well with NBC’s Dateline, ABC’s Nightline, The PBS NewsHour and CNN’s Inside Africa.



He shared these 10 Building Blocks for Making a Difference.

1         Build a Team
2         Recognize the Power of Social Movements
3         Value and Prioritize Innovation
4         Invest in the Next Generation
5         Harness the Power of Celebrity to Further Your Cause
6         Build Hope
7         Find a Human Face of What You are Working On
8         Understand the Role Faith Can Play in Your Cause
9         Take Care of You
10       Embrace Your Don Quixote

Prendergast also talked about his involvement in Big Brother and Big Sisters in Washington, D.C. and encouraged students to consider tutoring, mentoring or something to help make a positive impact on a young person’s life.  In addition he urged students to reach out to local celebrities to help highlight their cause.  He suggested that students could invite television news broadcasters to attend an event they may be holding for a cause to garner publicity. 

Prendergast also emphasized the importance of connecting a face to your cause and the importance of encouraging a simple action that your intended audience can take to help the cause.  He concluded by urging the audience to “embrace your Don Quixote”.   He said, “You have got to dream, take risks along the way and don’t settle for good enough; inevitably you are going to fail,” and stressed the importance of not giving up.   

Students enjoyed the conversational nature of Prendergast’s presentation, the ideas he offered and his candor when answering their questions.   “Students who major in political science are often looking for a way to make the world a better place,” explains Convocation Director and Assistant Professor of Political Science, Christopher Day.  “We hope that John reminded them that there’s still a lot of work to be done and inspired them to get started.”

under: Events

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