Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Inspiring Moments and Takeaways

The Last Day of the Pearson Student Leadership Summit

The final full day of the Pearson Student Leadership Summit consisted of a workshop with breakout sessions for both the Pearson Prize National Fellows and the Pearson Student Advisory Board. The tone of the day was set through the innovative leaders on the Social Entrepreneurship Panel, who discussed listening, serendipity, and problem solving, as well as making and sustaining connections.

We asked the Pearson Prize Fellows about the Social Entrepreneurship Panel, their breakout sessions, and what they thought they could bring back to their community from their experience. Here are some of their responses.

Karim Abouelnaga
Cornell University
“We all know that problems exist [in our communities], but we do need to listen to the constituents, the people we’re trying to serve and help going forward. I think that’s one of the biggest takeaways from today’s session. I hope to go back to my organizations now and make sure, before we step into any problems where we come up with a fixed solution, that there’s a need that exists and that we’re not just trying to force something that probably doesn’t need to be fixed, so we don’t waste our resources.”

Jon Adams
Helena College of Technology of University of Montana
Montana State University
“The men and women of the Pearson Prize Fellows are an inspiration to me. They’ve reawakened my commitment to community service and wanting to go out and start more nonprofits, and get more collaborative efforts between all the community services to create more community service. If we can get everybody in my college to do one hour of service … that comes out to 12,000 hours a week! How important would that be?”

Muthuraman Alagappan
Stanford University
“One thing that really struck me today was the importance of serendipity, the importance of connections and knowing other people in the industry who are doing similar things. I really got a sense that, by working together, by combining the ideals that all of us have, we can do something that’s greater than what we could have done individually. So, that’s why it’s fascinating being at this conference, because we get to meet 19 other fellows who are doing excellent things, who have the same underlying passions and the same motivations. We’re all doing things that are different, yet they are so connected in the sense that we can help each other make each of our individual efforts that much stronger. So I really look forward to connecting with all these fellows, keeping in touch; hopefully down the line we can put all of our strengths and skills together and come up with something that’s extraordinary that does a lot of good.”

Danny Brannon
Anne Arundel Community College
“One of the things that stood out the most to me [on the first full day of the summit] that I felt most interested in was how Pearson values everybody in the organization equally: from the person who is an intern maybe making copies on a copy machine, to the director of marketing, everyone has the same value to the organization, everyone is equally important – and everyone is celebrated … Another thing that stood out to me today was when Bill Hughes [of Pearson Education] talked about inspiring people and sparking people … the passion that everybody here displays is just amazing.”

Timi Chu
Northwestern University
“Honestly, I never really thought of myself as a social entrepreneur. And, when I heard the term today, and when I heard the name of the panel, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s actually what I’m doing.’ I’m making a change in society by implementing an idea or satisfying a need that I saw in society … By listening to what [community members] needed, I was able to help them out – and partner with the Evanston Public Library, as well as Jumpstart, which I work with through Northwestern University. And, by forming that partnership with them … I was able to bring some change to the Evanston community. So, I’m not sure if I would implement anything differently, but I would definitely plan on continuing my partnership with Evanston, Jumpstart, and all the families that I work with.”

Melinda Civic
Schenectady County Community College
“Having the opportunity to meet the fellows has been an incredible experience. We all come from diverse backgrounds, yet we are all united through Pearson because of our passion for education and community service. Everyone is extremely driven, and I have enjoyed being able to hear everyone’s plans for future academics and community projects. These are truly exceptional individuals who have had (and will continue to have) a positive impact on their communities.”

Cristina Garcia
University of Texas at Dallas
“What I’d like to take home from this Pearson Student Leadership Summit and bring back to the community and to my organizations is a better understanding of leadership at all entrepreneurship levels, as well as corporate levels, and really to bring back, especially to the student government association, a realization of why textbooks cost so much. [I’d like] to bring back to both my former community college and my new university the [mobile learning] initiatives that we’ve been talking about and so many ideas that we’ve discussed, so that they can continue the mission of helping students be able to afford the new technologies that are coming out and the new ways of mobile learning.”

Jarell Green
University of Nevada, Reno
“[On the first full day of the Summit], Sandi Kirshner mentioned how Pearson notices that one of the biggest challenges in higher education today is the level of achievement – that stood out to me in a great way, because it is important that we get students to college, but it’s even more important that we get those students to graduate. And, seeing that that’s one of Pearson’s goals, it truly inspired me to go back to my community and make sure that I keep doing the work that I’m doing with first-generation college students, and making sure that they do graduate.”

Jacob Kerr
Lake City Community College
“I’m very excited to be here, and I’m very grateful to Pearson. This has been a very interesting summit. I’ve had a lot of good experiences, and I’ve learned quite a bit from it; I’ll take back some real-life experiences and applications that I can use at the college and Phi Theta Kappa organization, and also later in life, when seeking employment as a chemical engineer. The advice that many of these ladies and gentlemen have offered us has been very insightful, very helpful. I really appreciate their time. Some of the most important things I think that they highlighted were the importance of diversity and also in getting reliable partners when starting an organization. Marketing trends, the different research that was conducted – it was all very interesting … I just hope to take away the same skills and advice and be able to apply it to our own PTK club, and also anything outside.”

Onaje LaMont
Broward Community College
“My expectation as a Pearson Prize National Fellow is to continue to serve the community and also to continue performing well academically – using what I’ve learned to really help shape the future, where education is concerned. We need to implement new tools, new resources, new innovations to help change this world, because we really need new, innovative minds – and that’s my expectation.”

Kevin Magana
CUNY La Guardia Community College
“From these last three days, my hunch is that a lot of social entrepreneur work and nonprofit work… has been greatly encouraged, reinforced, and inspired by everybody who’s around me, who are doing things to shape society, to help make it a better place. [Regarding] my specific initiative dealing specifically with immigrants, immigration reform, and also education, I want to combine those very big, broad issues and find a middle ground intersection where I’ll have creative measures to both help change social policy, immigration reform, and also to better educate those new Americans, new people who come to our country, so they can have a better chance and equal opportunities in the United States. I am looking forward to coming back to LaGuardia Community College … brainstorming with a lot of student leaders, building social capital and really finding a need, something that I can tackle myself within immigration and education.”

Garrett Wright
University of Southern Mississippi
“Hopefully, this summit gives me the courage to make moves in the community that otherwise I would not have the courage to do.”

Friday, August 12, 2011

Learning From Each Other

The Pearson Student Leadership Summit is an opportunity for Pearson Prize Fellows, as well as students on the Pearson Student Advisory Board (PSAB), to connect with each other and with other business, community and education leaders.  Take a look at the imagery and comments below to get a deeper view inside the Summit.

The first full day of the summit started with Pearson speakers Teresa Chung, Sandi Kirshner, and Adam Ray, followed by a panel of additional leaders from the company, who all provided attendees with an overview of Pearson, the Pearson Foundation and related school and community initiatives. Next, business leaders led groups of students in discussions about gaming, social learning, personal learning and mobile learning. A common theme emerged in each presentation and subsequent discussion: the speakers were looking to learn from the students as much as the students were eager to hear about their work.

We asked the Fellows what they found interesting, either about the Pearson Student Leadership Summit as a whole or the discussion groups today, and what they could take away from their experience so far. Here are some of their responses.

Bernard Akem
Normandale Community College
“[What] stood out most for me during the summit was to find that almost everyone on the Pearson [panel] started off doing something else and ended up being interested in helping out students in their education. And, seeing that they are very much diverse…and that they are very much interested in helping out students. The National Fellows themselves are interested in helping out in the community, engaging their fellow students in their community or with other volunteer experiences … I really love this, because I [had once] thought – coming from a different country, being diverse myself – that being able to stand up for students wasn’t actually something I could accomplish, and now I cannot believe where it’s taken me. I’m even much more motivated to get many more students on board and make them realize that we cannot succeed on our own, we have to work together.”

Jay-Sheree Allen
CUNY City College
“I thought today was absolutely amazing – we’re just halfway through, so we still have a lot more to go – but what I loved about the morning portion was getting to meet some of the employees of Pearson and hear about what they do in the company. Because I think from the outside, before coming here and finding out more, I just thought, “Pearson: book publishers,” and that was it; but it was so interesting to meet everyone and see the different areas involved in the company – and also how the work that they do ties into other industries in other areas. Also, meeting the other [Pearson Prize Fellows], as well as the Pearson Student Advisory Board, because it was interesting to have conversations with them about the work they’re doing in the community.”

Amber Koonce
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
“I would say there are two things that have really intrigued me about what we’ve been doing today. I’ve been really intrigued by the diversity of perspectives that we have in the room, because of the different ages and different types of educational levels that we’re bringing to the table when discussing issues of higher education. And it’s been really interesting to hear people’s opinions coming from private universities, community colleges, and state universities. It’s really great and interesting to hear how their learning experiences have been shaped by Pearson products and by different teaching styles. I’ve also found it very interesting that our opinions really are cared about here. Bill [Hughes, of Pearson Education] has been throwing out the term ‘co-creativity.’ I just think it’s really fascinating to see that our opinions as students, and as consumers of Pearson products, are being used to shape the next generation of what learning will look like. I think it’s really great to think that our experiences will shape future experiences of students.”

Maia Mossé
Stanford University
“One of the things that I took from these discussions that I think I could really apply to the organizations I’m running and the nonprofits I’m involved in is that, beyond just problem-solving and involving industries in forward-thinking [ways], also look at how to make people within your organization feel really happy about what they’re doing and within their specific tasks feel happy about what they do. I hear that over and over again [from Pearson representatives] and you can just see it in people’s faces, how they light up – there’s this genuine enjoyment of what they’re doing. So [I see potential value in] really maximizing that, and not just focusing on the work.”

We also asked the PSAB members to tell us how they see their role working with Pearson to help students, as well as what educational resources Pearson could develop to best support students. Here are some of their responses.

Margaret Glennon
Emmanuel College
“I see my role working with Pearson as a very extreme and important one; I’ll be providing Pearson with a unique opinion, that of their customers, which is very important to them, not only profit-wise and success-wise, but also important to the success of students. It’s a very important position because I’ll be working with Pearson directly … I’ll be giving insight to executives, which is going to be thrilling.”

James Hughes
Rhodes State College
“I don’t think there’s a specific product that should be developed more so than a more focused vision: focusing on at-risk students, those who are failing in certain areas. If we can catch students before they begin failing, using products that can become intuitive and a pre-emptive measure to catch them if they do poorly on a test – and don’t just tell them they did poorly on a test, but help them figure out what they did poorly on and then help them succeed in that specific area – it becomes an all-inclusive success.”

Yin Yin Lu
Columbia University
“I think that the resources that Pearson should be developing to best help students are resources that will engage them in the greatest possible extent with their subject matter. So interactivity is a huge focus. I think that, with digital products and technological innovations, the future of this would be products that engage audio, visual, multimedia, lots of student feedback during the learning process; so, watching videos, and not only watching, but having students make videos – as many possible products that will involve hands-on activity and engagement to the greatest possible extent.”

Mark Noth
Arcadia University
“I think that there is really no limit to the different avenues that Pearson should be exploring in order to help students achieve academically as well as personally in every sense. Specifically, I think areas that could really use some major improvement are in supplemental classroom materials for students in areas that are struggling to hold students’ attention, especially in the way the world is working in the constant white noise that’s going on around us, whether that’s social media or marketing in general ... Education needs to go to the next level to help students achieve. But I also believe that Pearson could make great strides in helping combine social media as well as gaming platforms to help students reach the next level in fields and different courses of study that will benefit them in the long run, to not only engage them in their own learning process, but also help them to discover new things in their respective fields.”

Casey Randazzo
Cornell University
“When I envision my role [at Pearson], I see myself staying focused; it’s one of the things I’m really good at. I’m good at going into a situation, regardless of what it is … and just giving it my all, being really determined and focused to get the work done, so that’s how I will be helping Pearson help students. Because I am an arriving student myself, I’ll be making sure I talk to arriving students from all different parts of the school that I’m going to, from all different clubs, different areas. I think it’s really important not to leave people out. Just listening to people – that’s the only way you’ll find solutions to problems: if you just ask the right questions and actually listen to what students are saying, hear them out, don’t interject…to hear what they’re saying and make a proper change, to have a product that really fits for them and other students like them.”

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Pearson Prize Fellows Have Arrived!


The Pearson Prize is a student leadership award that recognizes and provides support to exemplary students who are distinguishing themselves by leading public service efforts in their local communities. This year, 20 National Fellows and 50 Community Fellows have been named from more than 20,000 applicants.

From August 9 through 11, the 2011 Pearson Prize National Fellows are joining other student, business, community, and education leaders at the Pearson Student Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. While there, they’ll be sharing their experiences. 

As the Fellows arrived at the Leadership Summit, we asked their thoughts around why they applied for the Pearson Prize and their expectations for the summit. Here are some of their responses.

Jon Adams
Helena College of Technology of the University of Montana
“I was pretty amazed at the videos last year of the phenomenal people that were selected [for the Pearson Prize], and I’m really looking forward to meeting some of these people and hearing some of their stories.”

Muthuraman Alagappan 
Stanford University
“I applied for the Pearson Prize mainly because I wanted to see what it was that motivated students in America to pursue community service…I’m so glad to be a Pearson Prize Fellow; it’s a huge honor and I’m really excited for the next couple of days – to learn from everyone, to meet everyone, to see what energizes them, and hopefully to see how we can work together for many years on doing innovative community service projects.”

Daniel Brannon 
Anne Arundel Community College
“I expect to have an opportunity to meet some amazing people, people who have been practicing leadership for a long time, who can help us and guide us…It’s just a wonderful opportunity to meet people who are living amazing lives.”

Colin Carlson 
University of Connecticut
“What really struck me about the Pearson Prize is it’s about finding the best people in every field, the people who are really making a difference anywhere. That, to me, is something that seems really unique. What I’m definitely looking forward to is just getting to know the other Fellows and getting a sense for what other people are doing out in the community…I’m hoping this is going to be a huge energizer for next year for me.”

Timi Chu 
Northwestern University
“I’m expecting to hear a little bit about what the other National Fellows have done in their communities as well as get some skills on how to develop further what I’ve done in my community, and see what they have to offer for me and what I can further do to help the children that I work with.”

Cristina Garcia
University of Texas at Dallas
“[My expectation is] to meet a phenomenal group of individuals that share some of the same interests…I’m really excited to meet everyone, work together with Pearson, be part of the Leadership Summit, and learn from everybody.”

Jarell Green
University of Nevada, Reno
“My expectations are to come and meet the other Fellows, bounce ideas off of each other on how we can come together in our communities as better leaders, as well as see D.C. as a whole.”

Amber Koonce
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
“From what I’ve seen so far, all of the students are so exciting and engaging and interesting. So, I’m really looking forward to working with my peers and hearing their creative ways of approaching issues within our society, [as well as] coming up with some really innovative and creative ways of addressing these issues.”

Caleb Pendleton 
The University of Texas at San Antonio
“I expect to learn more leadership skills, be exposed to other people that think differently than I do, and learn from them.”

Maria Vertkin 
2010 Pearson Prize National Fellow 
“Definitely the best part of [the Leadership Summit ] is the people. Last year, I got to meet so many wonderful and inspiring people. And I’m hoping for the same this year.”

Garrett Wright
University of Southern Mississippi
“My expectations for the next few days are to be able to collaborate with the other National Fellows who give so much back to their community. It seems as if we all have an amazing impact on our community. We can do so much if we come together… And we can go home and try to change our community even more than we already have.”

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

We Give Books Tops 325,000 Books Donated


This morning, We Give Books topped 325,000 books donated!  We couldn't have done this without your ongoing support and participation and we'd like to thank you for continuing to make We Give Books a success. If you haven't already, now is the time to take part in the We Give Books Summer Reading Contest. Every week until September 7, you’ll have a chance to win a book and We Give Books t-shirt, just by reading online. Top readers will also be entered for a chance to win materials for a Read for the Record event in their community! Check out to learn more.