Raj Shah meets ONE members at his alma mater

University of Michigan and ONE Campus Volunteer Michelle DiMuzio reports event with USAID Administrator Raj Shah co-hosted by ONE at the University of Michigan and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

Raj Shah meets with ONE students
When I got accepted at the University of Michigan (UofM) last year, I have to say I was a skeptic. As an incoming freshman from Chicago, the huge class sizes, the overwhelming school pride and the obsession with everything Michigan, maize and blue seemed a bit much.

After last Friday’s event at UofM with Dr. Rajiv Shah, Innovation in Development, I can officially say I’m a convert. As an executive board member of the ONE Campaign at the University of Michigan, I had the pleasure of co-hosting an event with Dr. Shah, a proud Michigan Wolverine and the Administrator of US Agency for International Development at his alma mater.

The Administrator returned to UofM to speak to a group of more than 200 students and faculty. The campus tour helped promote the USAID fall semester program, which encourages students to support the organization through volunteering, idea sharing, and traveling abroad.

Raj Shah with ONE students

Dr. Shah discussed how mobile technology in remote areas have allowed farms to determine real time prices for crops; the progress being made in reducing preventable child deaths; and the success of UofM graduates working internationally. Dr. Shah, donning his UofM lapel pin, sparked almost palpable inspiration in the room when told us that “as Michigan students, you have the power to see an end to extreme poverty by 2035.”

Innovation through Development audience

Directly prior to the event, my fellow members of ONE at UofM and I had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Shah to discuss our work on campus and ONE’s new sweet potato campaign. Mr. Sweet Potato –- as Dr. Shah’s friends affectionately call him -– is a big supporter. He shared his firsthand experience with a village in Uganda where the Vitamin A packed sweet potatoes helped prevent a variety of Vitamin A deficiency related diseases common in the region, and even posed with us for a few sweet pictures.

Of course, our ONE crew at UofM couldn’t pass up the chance to do some advocacy, and we used the opportunity to deliver the Sahel petition on the New Alliance to Dr. Shah. Dr. Shah was excited about last week’s announcement naming three more countries with funding commitments for their long term agriculture plans, and acknowledged the need to add countries in the Sahel region to the list.

So as a former UofM skeptic, I can say that Dr. Shah’s visit to the University of Michigan epitomizes why it really is great to be a die-hard Michigan Wolverine. Old and new Michigan students came together on Friday for the type of global engagement that can only be found on a college campus. ONE at UofM was honored to welcome Dr. Shah back to his alma mater and are excited to join the next generation of leaders and best in the fight against poverty.