By Katie Curran (MYL ’14)
I started Project Next Generation with a burning desire to make a difference in the world. I wanted to promote diversity and a global outlook in my community. The organization began with the power of people motivated to change the world for the better. As a social entrepreneur, I wanted to invest in my generation.
My biggest advice to young people is that you are never too young to create change. No excuses! Leading Project Next Generation has been the most inspiring and rewarding experience of my life. PNG means a lot to me because I promote cross-cultural understanding and collaborate with fascinating individuals.
One of the best feelings is receiving positive reinforcement. I am thankful for MassSTAR and the Massachusetts Youth Leadership Foundation for their constant source of encouragement. When I hear positive feedback about my service, I feel energized. When I was 15, I completed an exchange in Copenhagen, Denmark. When my Danish family sends warm wishes, I know that my work is amplifying the youth voice worldwide! Share with others the work you are doing. Be proud and bold!
PNG has allowed me to see the world from a unique perspective. In February 2016, I traveled to the United Arab Emirates. I met young world changers from over 50 countries. I am so thankful for the meaningful conversations I had with high school students from Vietnam to Bosnia. As I climbed sand dunes, rode a camel and visited a mosque in the UAE, I found myself appreciating every cross-cultural encounter. Moreover, I represented my organization in Davos, Switzerland, home of the World Economic Forum. It was especially empowering to discuss youth engagement right where international policy makers convene to address the world’s most pressing issues.
A large component of Project Next Generation is advocacy. I share my work with international leaders to encourage the inclusion of youth in government. In 2013, I met President Bill Clinton and spoke with Chelsea Clinton about global health and youth engagement. Three years later, I found myself crossing paths with the Clinton family again during the 2016 New Hampshire Primary. I spoke with Bill Clinton and Secretary Hillary Clinton. I shared my goal to run for public office one day with Hillary Clinton and she replied, “I hope to break the glass ceiling for you!” This moment of empowerment reaffirmed that no matter what obstacles come my way, I will never stop dreaming and achieving.
Community service and volunteerism are integral to who I am. I find meaning making a difference in the lives of others. I cannot wait to see where Project Next Generation will be next as it grows and explores the world around us!