Shelby Cole Interview

Shelby Cole
Major and Year: Human Development and Family Studies (Minors: Psychology and Philanthropy and Nonprofit) Senior, graduating December 2014
Interests: If I were to just make a list of my interests it would look a little something like: reading, swimming, biking, going to the movies, or when procrastination gets the best of me, scrolling through Buzzfeed. I'm a big fan of really bad scary movies and hanging out with my family (particularly my brother's two Australian Shepherds and anyone who says dogs aren't family is lying). Honestly, I could be doing the most boring thing in the world and as long as I'm with someone I love, I'm happy.

What global challenge(s) are you most interested in and why?

One thing I have learned since being a Fellow is just how interconnected all of the worlds issues are to each other. We cannot discuss health without addressing education and we cannot talk about hunger without incorporating sustainability. When searching for solutions, we cannot afford to dichotomize the challenges the world faces into their own categories, unaffected by other circumstances unless you want a "band-aid" fix- a temporary solution that will eventually end up being attended to by our own children and generations to come. While I believe it is pertinent to consider all of the global challenges, the issue I am most passionate about is girls' education. Sometimes the oppression of certain groups, whether the subjugation is caused by religious affiliation, gender, or skin color, seems like an idea of the past. But when looking at numbers, more girls have been discriminated to death than all of the deaths on the battlefields of the 20th century. I was once told that being born into America is like winning the lottery of life and I completely agree. I feel we do not realize the urgency in this issue of educating girls around the world because we do not tend to see it in the US. So why should we care? Studies have shown that educating a girl is the fastest way to lift an individual out of poverty and the most efficient method to breaking the cycle of poverty. The effects of educating a girl are endless: lowering her risk of contracting and spreading HIV/AIDS, decreasing the chances of teen pregnancy or marrying young, reduces her risk of being coerced into sex trafficking, lowers her chance of experiencing domestic abuse, she is also more likely to keep her own children in school creating a cycle of more educated girls in the world. While the benefits are virtually endless for an educated girl, how can a country profit from investing in a girls education? According to the CIA World Fact book if, "India enrolled 1% more girls in secondary school, its GDP would rise by $5.5 billion a year". It's simple- educating a girl has transformative results. I am passionate about girls' education not only because education it is a fundamental human right but also because I do not feel comfortable sitting back enjoying the privileges I have been born with while millions around the world do not even have access to basic needs. I feel that I must go out and do the little bit of good I can do while I'm here. "I want you to share your bread with the hungry, open your homes to the homeless poor, remove the yoke of injustice and let the oppressed go free." - Isaiah 58

How can students at Auburn University contribute to the Leadership Challenge?

The Dalai Lama said, "It is not enough to be compassionate; you must act." So what can Auburn students act upon? I fear that sometimes people do not know what to do because they believe they must change their major in order to be a world changer but I do not think that's true. I honestly think some of the best ways to contribute is just being aware of the actions you make. Recently I had a discussion with my friend, Dillon, about being mindful of our choices and the purchases we make. Buying local is a great way to stimulate the local economy and help the environment. Turn the lights off when you leave a room or invest in a water bottle so you reduce your production of plastic waste. Educate yourself on issues in your community, stay informed on laws and policymakers, and participate when you can, through voting, advocacy, or writing a letter to your state senator. Support organizations that are helping issues you're passionate about whether that is girls' education, aid in natural disasters, blood drives, donating to local food pantries- the opportunities are endless. Our communities and world need people who want to make the world a better place, find what gives you energy and go do it!

Last Updated: Oct. 8, 2013

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