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T-birds UNLEASH Their International Entrepreneurial Talents

July 29, 2019

3 Students Accepted Into Prestigious Innovation Lab in Shenzhen, China

Three Thunderbird students have been selected out of 8,000 applicants for UNLEASH 2019, the third annual prestigious weeklong innovation lab that will be held this year in Shenzhen, China. 

The T-birds will be among 1,000 participants who represent their entire generation, come from all over the world, and act as champions on behalf of eight of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 for the year 2030.  

The talents, as UNLEASH organizers call the participants, come from diverse backgrounds and have high aspirations, have proven to be creative and innovative, and are passionate about solving some of the world’s pressing challenges. UNLEASH’s goal is to transform 1,000 personal insights into hundreds of ideas, and build lasting global networks around the Sustainable Development Goals.

The three Thunderbird students selected for the UNLEASH Innovation Lab 2019, all 2020 Master’s candidates, are: 

  • Sabrina Barwick, who will work on SDG4: Quality Education track
  • Jessie Breffle, who will work on SDG9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure track
  • Maddie Handler, who will work on SDG4: Quality Education track

All UNLEASH participants have demonstrated a commitment to solving some of the world’s pressing challenges, possess a creative and innovative mindset, can point to a track record of making contributions to furthering social causes, and are willing to engage in co-creation with peers and experts. 

Maddie Handler teaches about STEM education to children from the International Community School in Amman, Jordan“When I applied to the UNLEASH innovation lab, I was driven by my summer internship with The Alchemist Lab in Amman, Jordan,” said Maddie Handler. “As my experience in Jordan is coming to a close, I realize that all of the experience I have gathered surrounding UN SDG 4 (Access to Quality Education), from Syrian refugee camps to international academies, has prepared me to propose real world problems and solutions to my colleagues. I am beyond excited to share my personal experiences with UNLEASH so that by 2030 more and more children have access to quality education.”

“ ‘I am beyond excited to share my personal experiences with UNLEASH so that by 2030 more and more children have access to quality education.’ ~Maddie Handler, T-bird ‘20”– Click to tweet

UNLEASH is a non-profit started in 2017. Since 2017, UNLEASH has been held in Denmark and in Singapore. In 2019, UNLEASH will take place in Shenzhen in China, Nov. 6-13. The UNLEASH organization pays expenses for the event. 

Talents will first gather at an Opening Ceremony where speakers from around the world will introduce them to the SDGs and to each other. The talents will then split into teams based on their SDG-focus. 

Sabrina Barwick, who is also focusing on the Quality Education SDG track, said, “I was inspired to apply for the UNLEASH innovation lab because I am committed to creating positive social change. UNLEASH is an exciting opportunity to connect with passionate individuals and work toward sustainable solutions to challenges faced here in the States and abroad. I look forward to cultivating new friendships, listening to new perspectives, and identifying tangible means to make quality education more accessible on a global scale.”

“ ‘UNLEASH is an exciting opportunity to connect with passionate individuals and work toward sustainable solutions to challenges faced here in the States and abroad.’ ~ Sabrina Barwick, T-bird ‘20”– Click to tweet

The themes for this year’s lab are: Good Health & Well-Being, Quality Education, Clean Water & Sanitation, Affordable & Clean Energy, Industry & Infrastructure, Sustainable Cities & Communities, Responsible Consumption & Production, and Climate Action. 

Jesse Breffle said he was attracted to the “doing” aspect of UNLEASH: “My intention was to collaborate with other talent to formulate strategies of how to support and invest in innovation and new market creation surrounding issues of infrastructure and industry in developing and emerging economies. My thoughts go back to a brilliant entrepreneur in Nepal who once told me that development and dreams all start with the same thing: a road. I am thrilled to learn and see global issues through different eyes and experiences of others. To learn from other's professional backgrounds and skills.”

For five days, the teams will take part in an innovation process designed by UNLEASH. 

During the final two days, teams will pitch their ideas in front of their peers and a jury full of experts in innovation, investment, and impact. Winning solutions are showcased and celebrated at a Closing Ceremony attended by VIPs from China and abroad. 

“T-birds will be among 1,000 participants who represent their entire generation, come from all over the world, and act as champions on behalf of United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”– Click to tweet

Every year until the culmination of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda, UNLEASH will be held in a new country. The SDGs will be explored through the lens of the host country, using local ways of living, thinking and working to ignite discussion and unlock new perspectives.

For more details:  

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