OLPCorps UIUC Kenya TeamBio
Eric Anderson: Project Lead (University of Illinois)
I am a rising senior studying English, Informatics, and Global Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A Chancellor's Scholar, James Scholar, and the Cooke Scholar in English, I am currently spending a semester at the University of Bristol, UK.
I first encountered OLPC while a staff writer for UIUC's Technograph Engineering Magazine. I wrote the "Pro OLPC" column and, evidently, was so convincing that the writer opposing me never turned in his piece! Since then, I have been searching for a way to get involved in this fascinating and ambitious project, and knew OLPCorps would be the best way to spend my last college summer.
I have extensive experience working with children. I've been a piano instructor, a Youth Music Minister at a local church, a reading tutor for 10 and 11-year-olds in Champaign, IL, and have lived and worked with gifted children at Stanford University and in Los Angeles through the Center for Talented Youth (CTY).
After the project, I'd like to establish a OLPC Registered Student Organization (RSO) at the University of Illinois in order to continue our affiliation with OLPC as well as MODEL-ITU.
Leslie Cornell: Technical Lead (University of Illinois)
I am currently a Civic Leadership Fellow earning my Master's degree in Political Science and Civic Leadership from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. My commitment to public service led me to Washington D.C. where I have been serving since January as an intern in the Office of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
As an undergraduate at Illinois, I studied Communications, Business and Political Science and served as an active advocate on behalf of the student body. As President of the Illini Union Board, I worked intimately with a budget of approximately $500,000, oversaw large-scale programming efforts and collaborated daily with a group of my peers to critically analyze the needs of the campus, form goals and sets agendas to move the organization forward.
As a sophomore, I spent a year working at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) as the undergraduate assistant for the Director for Education and Training. My primary responsibility in this office was to launch a new project called "Professors to Schools" in which we aimed to connect professors in Math, Science, Engineering and Technology fields from the University of Illinois to elementary and middle school students across the state using a combination of "web cams," online chat functions and pedagogical materials. This initiative sought to introduce children to the technology, the educational uses for the equipment and inspire them in quantitative academic fields.
Upon completing this project, I plan to begin an in-depth research experiment or practicum examining the correlation between poverty and educational disparity in the Champaign-Urbana community and create a proposal to increase the value of education that economically disadvantaged children in this area receive.
Ben Dobbins: Pedagogical Lead (University of Illinois)
I graduated this January from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with Chancellor's Scholar distinction in Mathematics and Economics. I am currently a Civic Leadership Fellow pursuing an MA in Political Science and Civic Leadership from the University of Illinois. I am interning in Washington D.C. until May.
Last summer, I spent three weeks working in Ecuador. I helped children and families learn how to use computers so they could better manage their finances and lifestyle. After working with OLPCorps in Africa and completing my Masters, I plan to return to Ecuador for a year on a Fulbright grant to continue the project I started.
Meghan Higginbotham: Cultural, Financial, and Logistics Lead (University of San Diego)
I am a senior studying International Relations and Peace and Justice Studies in the Middle East and Africa at the University of San Diego. I also study Arabic and global development. In 2008 I lived, studied and volunteered in Morocco for five months and Mexico for two.
I first heard of OLPC when studying development in South America. I am especially impressed with the durability, design and functionality of the XOs. I see what OLPC is doing as critical for decreasing the global educational gap. As a Head Start volunteer in the U.S., I understand the critical role that education plays in the lives of individual children, as well as their families and communities; this factor is evident even more so in the developing world.
I am currently an Enough Project intern in Washington, D.C. and am working on an initiative that seeks to provide quality education for Darfuri students living in refugee camps in Chad, through partnerships with American schools. The program will fund 72 schools (for over 100,000 children) in the camps and I hope to be able to assist in introducing XOs to the students in the camps in the next few years. I think that this program, like OLPC, is a great model for the kind of development that is necessary today: not just “aid” programs, but those which create a sense of solidarity between donors and recipients and understanding of the importance of addressing global poverty before personal or national wealth.
Matthew O'Rourke: Fundraising and Sustainability Lead (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
I am a rising senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, working a major in economics and minors in business and philosophy.
My passion for volunteering in underprivileged locations began with a trip to New Orleans in December of 2007. I volunteered with an organization named Katrina Corps and I displayed such a passion I was offered a coordinator position for the coming spring break which I promptly accepted.
Since then I’ve lead a group to Guatemala to work with economically challenged communities. Also, I’ve taken the position of marketing director of Alternative Breaks, a university organization that sends hundreds of kids to different locations across the U.S. to participate in community service projects during their winter, spring and summer breaks.
The last year and half of my life has been a whirlwind of building houses, painting schools, helping children, and discovering culture. I couldn’t imagine doing anything but continuing these experiences. So when I ran across a TED talk about the 100 dollar XO laptop I quickly scoured the internet to find OLPCorps and joined this great group.
Upon returning from Africa, I plan to fundraise for NGOs that our group will work with in Africa, as as well form a new group to travel to Africa with next summer and carry on OLPC’s mission.