Westminster student group places fourth in national competition

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FULTON — A student organization from Westminster College was recently recognized at the Clinton Global Initiative University meeting held at the University of California - Berkeley campus. 

The group, Global Development and Progress (GDP), placed fourth overall in the "Up to Us" competition, a program that challenges student organizations to raise awareness on their campuses about the long-term national debt. 

They were awarded $2,500 and placed higher than organizations from Cornell University, NYU, and Ohio State University. 

GDP's biggest push came from getting over 30% of students on campus to sign a petition to a local congressman regarding the national debt back in October. This was the highest participation percentage out of all the competing organizations. 

The first-year organization is advised by Dr. Jeremy Straughn, a transnational studies professor at Westminster.

"These guys, their optimism is contagious," Straughn said of the team members. "They promote such a positive vision for change for young people."

Executive member Ayush Manandhar, from Nepal, had the opportunity to represent his team in California. He said the organization was born out of the curiosity raised in Dr. Straughn's class for global issues. 

"Being a small campus and taking part in the competition for the very first time, really made us think that maybe we could test how deep the water was," Manandhar said. "But then again, when we came first in terms of student body covered it really encouraged us." 

Manandhar said meeting former President Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea was an honor.

Other executive members of the club are Isidora Simeunovic, Joseph Opoku, Nicolas Lopez, and Mustafe Elmi, all international students.