by Jim King
We thought it was about time to share a little bit about why and how Change University came to exist. Our website, ChangeUnivesity.org, gives a bit of information about us. But there are still questions that we receive. Hopefully this post will address most of the questions that we have received during our first eight months.
In The Beginning
During the summer of 2015, a meeting between the valedictorian of the Class of ’15 at Midway High School (just outside of Waco, TX) and a Class of ’75 graduate of the same high school – me – was scheduled at a local Starbucks. Even with the age difference, we had a number of commonalities – three in particular – and the plan for the meeting focused on a mentoring relationship as the valedictorian was heading off to college. Before the meeting happened, the ’15 valedictorian asked if he could bring to the meeting the salutatorian of the class as that student too shared the same three commonalities. At the end of that meeting, the two ’15 grads (both males) asked if it would be OK to bring the #3 and #4 graduates in the class of ’15 (two females) to the next meeting for they too shared the three commonalities. It was at that subsequent meeting that a plan was discussed that would ultimately lead to the creation of Change University.
Have You Guessed What They Are?
I am hoping that at this point you are asking “What are the three commonalities?” The first might be somewhat obvious from the previous paragraph: success in academics. No, I was not one of the top four in my graduating class like the class of ’15 students or even in the top 1% of the class like these four. My interest in “success in academics” is driven by having spent over 35 years in higher education, working with all types of students as they pursue academic success. The second commonality is not as easily distinguished. You might have guesses. But I think that it might come as a surprise to some if not a lot of you. The answer: athletics. All four of these top four (and top 1%) graduates, as did I, had earned at least one varsity athletic letter: two of the four student athletes in soccer, one in tennis and one in baseball. This was a very special group of four student athletes. I am not naïve enough to think that the top four students in a large graduating class being varsity athletic letter winners has never happened before. But I have been around long enough to know that it is at least a very rare occurrence. The third commonality? A DESIRE TO CHANGE THE WORLD! And who can’t get excited about that. So for me, just getting to meet and talk to these four student athletes that wanted to change the world was pretty exciting. Additionally, one important question was raised during the meeting: “How many more top 1% student athletes that desired to change the world were out there?” We left that meeting excited to try and find out and wondering what, if anything, might be next.
The Plan Takes Shape
It did not take even the drive home after that second meeting to start brainstorming. The initial plan called for the development of a group of graduates that shared the three commonalities of the first four: top 1% of their graduating class (or top two students from smaller schools), at least one varsity athletic letter and a desire to change the world. The group took on the name “Game Changers::Difference Makers”. Even before the recruiting of additional members began, some initial goals were set:
- Create a birds-of-a-feather network of high school graduates that shared the three commonalities.
- Find ways to “grow” the desire to change the world through knowledge acquisition and experiences.
- Make tangible “differences” in the world.
Even before completely fleshing out these three initial goals, the students started building the GC::DM birds-of-a-feather network. After those first four headed off to Harvard, Baylor, Trinity (San Antonio) and Hardin-Simmons, they recruited more students at those schools. I recruited students at University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. We recruited students from University of Texas, Texas A&M, University of Arkansas and a handful of other schools – large and small, public and private. This effort is still underway. HELP!!! If you know someone that fits the three commonalities and is a ’15 or ’16 high school graduate (plus graduates of all future years), please have them email their qualifying information to info.ChangeU@gmail.com. We really want to reach out to all colleges and universities in the U.S. And lest you think we don’t want international connections, that assumption would be false. We are in the process of determining how to integrate graduates from countries that do not have the same type of secondary education athletic programs that we have in the U.S. Stand by for a future post about that topic.
The initial four students grew to a much larger number. Within that larger group was a very active group of about ten that started envisioning what “could be”. They really wanted to attack goal #2, but they felt that would not happen as a “secret” Facebook group (the communication link for the network). Thus, Change University (www.ChangeUniversity.org) was created to help make goal #2 a reality. From the get-go it was for everyone everywhere, not just GC::DM members, to have a one-stop portal to use to find out via videos, blog posts and other written materials about people around the world that are already making a difference, to find out about free and low-cost online webinars and courses through which to acquire knowledge and to share their own stories of making a difference as they unfold.
Hopefully you have had a chance to read the stories of our Champions of ChangeU. Hopefully you have had a chance to watch some of their videos. If you have not, please do so. These are wonderful people doing wonderful thing in tough places. NOTE: If you have a personal contact that you believe should be named a Champion of ChangeU, please have that person send their website link and a personal phone number (so that we may contact them) to: info.ChangeU@gmail.com.
You have already seen a post for a free course. You will soon see an entire page for such items. You will also see a page with related books and other reading materials. But please feel free to send us notices about other books and courses as you find out about them. The more we can share, the more knowledge that can be shared with everyone. Please send such information to info.ChangeU@gmail.com. And as we progress through this Fall semester, you will start to see some stories of our GC::DM members making a difference around the world.
Change University is truly a place for everyone to learn how to become a global difference maker. Much work has taken place towards goal #2. But it is a never-reached goal. Yet we continue to stretch towards it!
That leaves us with goal #3. I do not want to call this one a dream even though there is nothing tangible to share about it at this time. This goal will be accomplished when students from Harvard, Trinity, Arkansas and UMHB go to Thailand to help with a project to make a difference in the lives of the poor in Isan. The third goal will take feet when a non-profit in Namibia engages ChangeU to bring students from Texas A&M and Texas and Auburn and Clemson, as one team, to Namibia to help develop solutions for a social issue. The third goal will fly when Dell or AT&T or Apple pays for a team of five members of GC::DM to go to Jordan to help in Syrian refugee efforts. So as you can see, this goal is not just a dream. It is just not reality yet. If anyone out there can help make it a reality, please contact ChangeU through the following email address: info.ChangeU@gmail.com. Be a part of the difference making!
ChangeU – And You!
This blog post has been a trip down memory lane. That memory lane has been filled with lots of potholes and felled trees and yield signs – and even a few stop signs we decided to “miss”. But at the distant end of that lane is a rainbow and a brightly shining sun. We invite you to grab for yourself the same chance I am have: working with this group of kids. They are our future and I can promise you that our future is very bright. Please find a way through ChangeU to join in on the fun! Change University provides the vehicle on which we may all ride together down that lane!!
Dr. Jim King is the President of Change University. You may read more about him at the bottom of the page at this link: