mtvU is celebrating the accomplishments of three exceptional students and honoring them as Top Of The Class. From the University of Maryland, the University of Missouri, and the University of New Mexico, these students are inspiring change on their campus and in their communities. Watch the video and read their profiles below to learn more.
Senior – University of New Mexico
David is one of two founding members of the UNM LGBTQ Resource Center which was created to address the needs of the LGBTQ community and was awarded $84,000 to get it up and running, helping to create a safe and supportive environment for LGBTQ students and straight allies.
He continues to crusade for LGBTQ rights as a Safe Zone trainer, facilitating a program designed to make faculty and staff of every school all over New Mexico (Grade Schools, High Schools and Colleges) more inclusive and supportive of LGBTQ students and co-workers, while still taking time to excel in his studies and act as a member of Alpha Kappa Delta. He also created the “Out and Ally” pledge for faculty and staff as an initiative for National coming Out Day, so students know they have allies all over campus.
As Chair of UNM’s Queer Straight Alliance he has been responsible for all of the on-campus fundraising for the organization, which under his leadership, was recognized this year as the most outstanding LGBT organization in Albuquerque. He made history on his campus by creating the first department at his University committed to serving the LGBTQ community.
Junior – University of Missouri
At the age of 17, Kam started an organization called Dream Outside the Box (DOTB), which calls on various clubs and organizations on campus and individuals from the Columbia community, to show underprivileged and minority children their potential. Kam’s not-for-profit organization introduces students at the local Boys and Girls Club to experiences such as participating in mock trials with attorneys, fencing, horseback-riding and rodeos and taking a field trip to a local TV studio.
While majoring in social work, she was recently named the 2011 Truman Scholar and created Taking Time to Tutor, a program that brings student tutors to hospitals to help keep kids in long-term hospital visits academically on track. She single handedly got 150 students to sign up to help and the program launches this fall. This summer she will be interning with Texas Senator Wendy Davis, while mentoring and raising money to fund ballerina tutus and dance gear for a ballet program she’s launching in the fall for underprivileged kids.
:Ola, Odunola Ojewumi
Junior – University of Maryland, College Park
At the age of 12, Ola received a heart and kidney transplant that almost took her life. After surviving, she decided to devote her time and energy into helping others and giving back. “I realized in order for me to be living someone had to die for me to have my new heart; I could have chosen to waste this new life I was given or choose to make an impact.”
In 2009 She founded Sacred Heart’s Children’s Transplant Foundation which helps grant transplants to children in the Northeast. Her grant program, Project A.S.C.E.N.D. has also given local charity LLOL Mentoring the opportunity to create summer camp for teen girls, reaching 100 girls in the DC metro area. She serves as a board member on President Obama’s Maryland State Student Chapter of Organizing for America, and this year through a UN support agency Americans for UNFPA, Ola got to travel to Guatemala to observe UN field programs. There she wrote articles about ending global violence and poverty that got published in Marie Claire and are now being used by the Population Council of Guatemala to teach indigenous women the English language.
This summer, Ola will be working as an intern at the White House in President Obama’s Cabinet Office of Public Engagement & Intergovernmental Affairs.