Seeking survival: lessons from history on the Cultural Day to Cabramatta

I found the GLP Cultural Day Series to Cabramatta last Session insightful and it inspired me to write a poem on the importance of learning from history. I was particularly interested in the history of Cabramatta, including the history of South East Asian migration from countries like Vietnam and China, and how Cabramatta has changed from a drug, gang and crime driven suburb into the thriving multicultural centre it is today. In addition, it was a great opportunity to meet fellow GLP students and make new friends.

The highlight of the day for me was the personal account of Jenny Tiew’s incredible journey against all odds from Cambodia to Australia, following Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge Communist regime from 1975 to 1979. Jenny emphasised that education and knowledge of the English language were key to her survival and success. I believe, it was through her honesty and determination that she became a successful entrepreneur, founding and running two businesses, one of which was a cosmetics and beautician store.


Jenny Tiew sharing her story with GLP students on the Cultural Day to Cabramatta. Jenny’s story is one of many important and highly relevant historical insights on the Cultural Day to Cabramatta.

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Working with integrity: solving global ethical dilemmas at GLP’s Innovative Leaders Series

“It’s really easy to walk outside the path of integrity as you move forward in your life. Don’t.”

Audette Exel at the GLP Innovative Leaders Series, 2016

Knowledge sharing is a key pillar of Audette Exel’s philosophy.

Audette, our Session 2 Innovative Leader, is a lawyer, international finance expert, philanthropist and founder of Adara, a for-purpose business that supports women and children in Nepal and Uganda. Adara aims to share the findings of its work widely, so others can build on their success and learn from their mistakes.

“The most important thing that we do as an organisation, maybe, is talk about our mistakes. They don’t define us. They enrich us.” – Audette (Thread Publishing 2015)

Audette believes the biggest mistakes – mistakes that compromise your integrity or cause harm – happen when you rush into decisions alone. At last month’s Innovative Leaders Series (ILS) event, Audette spoke about a time, in the early days of Adara, in the neonatal unit in Uganda when moving too quickly, without taking into account the local context and the lack of resources available, resulted in the loss of a number of babies’ lives.

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Social justice, native title and Aboriginal rights: The Aurora Internship Program

Looking for work experience to develop your practical and cross-cultural skills within Australia? Interested in social justice, native title and Indigenous affairs? If you are, read on! The Aurora Internship might be the right opportunity for you.

I came across the Aurora Internship Program during the third year of my University degree thanks to one of my lecturers. As an undergraduate Science student, majoring in Environmental Management and Human Geography, I was looking for work experience to complement my studies, as I understand how competitive the job market can be. At the same time, I wanted to find opportunities to complete the GLP program locally and enhance my University experience whilst gaining insight into working in the field of native title, land rights and social justice. I also saw the internship as an opportunity to get to know myself better and find out what I really want to do when I finish University.

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In conversation with GLP Convenor, Susanne Moore

As the numbers rolled in from the latest election, it became clear that this was not a year for women in power.

Despite the leaps our national politicians took in electing a diverse crop of new MPs, from our first Indigenous woman in the House to a record six openly gay representatives, women now figure at one of the lowest levels of representation in the Federal Parliament in years, down five on the Government benches since 2013.

Why aren’t women attracted to roles of power?

“It’s just too hard,” says Susanne Moore, head of the Centre for Gender Economics and Innovation and Convenor of the GLP Colloquium and Think Tank, Global Perspectives on Gender Economics, one of my personal favourites. Susanne has worked in corporate and consulting positions across Australia, runs her own business, and has worked hard to change the hierarchies and structures that sought to keep her down. These structures, legislative, corporate or legal, weren’t built for women. Politically, “women argue for their own inequality… this is a classic example of gender economics, [as] politics is not a space that is designed for us… it is designed by and for man, not men.” The political field is important, as it is the primary way that power is distributed in society, and reflected in corporate life also. “The way these organisations implement change” says Susanne, “is through democracy, it’s a collaborative effort, once people start to understand democracy and that ‘I’ve got a voice, and I can speak,’ then things start to happen.”

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Innovative Leaders Series: Student Ambassadors react to Session 2 Speaker Audette Exel

“Every life we’ve been involved with or touched is important to me.”

-Audette Exel-

One might say that GLP’s Innovative Leader for Session 2, Audette Exel’s approach to her work with The Adara Group is underpinned by a very simple, universal philosophy: treat every life as important. Look again, and you see that embodied in this simple statement is a vision that is all-encompassing. For Audette, treating every life as important is about support. It’s about enabling access to health, education, child well-being, maternal healthcare. It’s about empowerment, respect and dignity and the right to be independent.

In Audette’s case, it’s not just a vision that has managed to touch the lives of more than 100,000 people. The very foundational basis for The Adara Group, and the essence of the GLP’s Innovative Leaders Series is that inspiration and vision, combined with engagement and action, are the mechanisms for achieving lasting, sustainable change.


Audette at the Kiwoko Hospital neonatal intensive care unit in Uganda. The Unit was funded and built by the Adara Group.

We asked our GLP Ambassadors what they found most inspiring about our Innovative Leader, Audette.

Read on to find out:

What do you find most inspiring about Audette’s journey?


Aditi, Bachelor of Environment: Audette really challenges the ideas people have about finance and profit, and it’s interesting how she uses both to empower communities in poverty rather than using them for her own personal luxuries.

fauzanFauzan, Bachelor of Applied Finance: I feel as if I have truly found the perfect career inspiration, someone from whom I can truly gain unimaginably helpful career and personal advice on how to go on a similar journey. As a student of applied finance, I wish to gain insight into how a finance professional used her skills and knowledge of the industry to take steps and finally succeed in bringing change to the lives of many.


Hana, Bachelor of Arts with Bachelor of Commerce:  I am most inspired by Audette’s ability to use her experiences to face a range of challenges, such as domestic and global barriers, to establish the Adara Group and tap into villages and communities that are in dire need.

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Ivana, Bachelor of Law with Bachelor of International Studies: The most inspiring thing for me is seeing a woman educated in law apply her skills to empower those who are not as fortunate. This is one of the most empowering and selfless things a person could achieve in their lifetime; equipped with the power of a degree they were lucky enough to receive.


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Audette with Adara’s Uganda Program Manager

If you could ask Audette Exel one question, what would it be?

Aditi: What have you found to be the most rewarding component of working with communities that are struggling financially?

Fauzan: What challenges did you face in reaching this pinnacle in your career, and how did you overcome those challenges? What would you have done differently?

Hana: It is clear that you are extremely resilient and determined in fighting for equality and making a change. What would be your biggest piece of advice, for students like us, facing similar challenges in an attempt to help improve others’ lives in the global community?

Ivana: What was the most challenging part of leaving your former job and establishing Adara? Was it a success from the start?

Audette Exel will be the speaker at our Innovative Leaders Series event on the evening of Wednesday 28 September. 

The Innovative Leaders Series brings students from across the GLP together to hear from  innovators who have developed their ideas into means for catalysing positive social change. The Innovative Leaders Series is a keynote event function incorporating a Q &A session with our Innovative Leader, as well as a networking component. The GLP’s Innovative Leaders Series is run in the mid-Session break of both Session 1 and Session 2 and held on the Macquarie campus. 

Check your emails for more details on the event and how to register or, if you are a current GLP student, register on Thrive.

In conversation with GLP Convenor, Dr Sara Fuller

Through my ambassadorship with the Global Leadership Program, I was granted the opportunity to interview Dr Sara Fuller from the MQ Department of Geography and Planning and Convenor of the GLP Colloquium, A Global Perspective on Climate Justice.

Sara’s research explores concepts and practices of justice and democracy in the context of global environmental change with a focus on the role of non-governmental organisations and communities in enacting a low carbon transition. Sara highlighted the focus of her work as, “looking at inequalities in and around the environment and connecting those to humans – so not just looking at the environment in isolation.

Sara Fuller- Vientiane Laos

Dr Sara Fuller, Vientiane Laos

The environment is often considered a voiceless stakeholder. Although humanity depends on a healthy environment to thrive on, the environment is often taken for granted and mistreated for its resources. I asked Sara about the relationship between justice, democracy and the environment and found that the answer isn’t a simple one.

Referring to my idea of the environment being a voiceless stakeholder, Sara said; “In some ways it is, in some ways, it isn’t. It’s voiceless to one degree, where we try to push it to one side and manage it with technology. But on the other hand, it’s not voiceless because it has a clear impact and we see the impact of that everyday.” This comment struck me, like lightning. The environment does have a voice and it is now speaking up. Through record temperatures, occurrences of natural disasters and extinctions, it is trying to tell us something. Climate change is happening, and we, as future leaders, have the opportunity to do something about it.

Speaking of persons and stakeholders that have no voice, Sara highlighted the significance of giving a voice to future generations; “Future generations have no rights in a legal sense; thus intergenerational justice is another important concern.” You may feel overwhelmed by all of this – I know I often do. The question is how do we apply democratic principles in order to protect what we have and conserve it for the future? Sara advocated for ‘collective action.’ “By collectively organising and managing workloads, this doesn’t only prevent the same people from burning out; it validates your own views by putting them into action and allows you to influence policy through the power of collective action.” We can achieve a lot more if we act together.

On a final note I asked Sara; what would you say to your university self and to a university student now?

You can be strategic, but you can’t plan what’s going to happen in your life. Be open to opportunity and follow through with those opportunities.

Thank you so much Sara, your time and insight is so valuable to me and I hope other students can also take something away from this.


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Written by Ashley Avci (pictured above).

Ashley was our Session 1, 2016 GLP Student Ambassador. She is currently studying towards a Bachelor of Environmental Science with a Bachelor of Laws and began the Global Leadership Program at the start of 2013. Ashley also founded her own not-for-profit ‘Fin Free Sydney’, raising awareness about the impacts of shark finning. 

For further information, Sara suggested watching Naomi Klein’s ‘Capitalism and the Climate’ at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2015.


Ashley’s interview with Dr Sara Fuller is part of a new blog series to give you a better insight into our GLP Convenors and their Colloquium and Think Tank topics. We asked our GLP Student Ambassadors to interview a Convenor on their area of expertise – what inspires them, what makes them tick and what advice they would give GLP young leaders.

Dr Sara Fuller’s Colloquium, A Global Perspective on Climate Justice, will be running on Wednesday 5 October, 2pm – 5pm. Register on Thrive (undergraduates  and study abroad/exchange students only).

The Refugee Camp in My Neighbourhood: Cultural Series, Auburn 2016

Over the last several years during my time at Macquarie University I have studied and researched refugees merely in terms of statistics; where they are fleeing from, where they are traveling to and how many there are estimated to be. We have covered an array of international treaties and domestic policies that apply to their fundamental rights as human beings.

We have not however, been provided insight into the personal stories and struggles of refugees themselves. We do not learn about the challenges they face in fleeing their country, finding permanent homes or in gaining legal recognition of their rights. We simply do not study refugees in terms of their experiences as individuals, as they seek a safe place to live and work.

It was our tour through the Refugee Camp in My Neighbourhood, as part of GLP’s Cultural Series Day, which gave me the opportunity to hear real stories from refugees themselves. Located in Auburn, a Refugee Welcome Zone as of 2004, the interactive program highlighted to us the extreme difficulties they encounter as they flee their homes in search of somewhere safe to live.


Simulated refugee camp, GLP Cultural Series Auburn, 2016 (photo courtesy Amy Thomas).

The tour consisted of several activities that captured the realities of living in a refugee camp and was itself run by a number of refugees who had experienced their own journey in seeking asylum here in Australia.

We were given two minutes to quickly choose 5 things we would take with us upon being forced to flee the country, while noting asylum seekers often do not have time to do just that. Upon entering the camp we were confronted by security. A man yelled at us in a foreign language, while taking from us our jackets, bags and the few things we had selected to bring.

This gave me a sense of how truly terrifying it would be arriving in a foreign country, where you do not speak the language, do not know what is going to happen to you or your family, and have the few things that were yours taken from your hands.

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#15 The Right to a Nationality (photo courtesy Chloe Spackman).

To register our ‘family’ with the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) we were given documents in a foreign language that we simply could not complete. We saw what was meant to be a toilet used by hundreds of people, a mere hole in the ground, while ‘landmines’ throughout the camp reminded us of health hazards, including contaminated water and infectious disease.

The difficult decisions often faced by refugees were highlighted to us, as we were made to choose between either staying in an overcrowded house unfit for our family or risk paying a year’s rent in advance for better accommodation, without the guarantee of finding employment.


Contaminated water demonstration at the simulate Refugee Camp, Auburn (photo courtesy Amy Thomas).

The simulated camp was confronting and opened my eyes to the conditions suffered by millions of asylum seekers globally. Yet the most shocking aspect of the tour for me personally was the stories and pictures drawn by children, pleading to be released from the camps. The drawings showed stick figures crying behind fences, with sunshine and trees on the other side out of reach.

Although it was undeniably upsetting to see, I am grateful I had the opportunity to grasp a greater understanding and awareness of such a significant global issue. I feel the tour has further opened my eyes to the realities suffered by refugees and given me a new perspective on an area I thought I was already familiar with. I know I will take this experience with me through the rest of my studies and into the future as I engage in conversations surrounding human rights and issues of global concern.

Written by Amy Thomas, third year Bachelor of Social Science student and GLPer. 

As part of our ongoing Cultural Series, this month the GLP organised a special one-off opportunity for students to participate in the Refugee Camp in My Neighborhood, an interactive learning experience in Auburn. Developed in collaboration with over 100 community members and led by refugees living in Auburn the experience highlighted the challenges refugees face in finding a permanent home, the daily realities of life in a camp and resettling in Australia. Along with this experience, students received a briefing at the Auburn Gallipoli Mosque and explored the suburb and met with local residents in a scavenger hunt.

Rajasthani Warrior

It’s really interesting when you learn about the textbook version of India; how the pillars of social activity and political stability contribute to the economic growth of the nation.

I suppose growing up as an Australian-born Indian has made this textbook version one that particularly sparks my curiosity. The most intriguing part is that the textbook version is simply a vision that the world has for India; and one that India seeks to pursue.

The Cross Cultural Practicum component of the Global Leadership Program provided me with an amazing platform to volunteer in India, and to fulfill my goals of inspiring young children and empowering women to reach their full potential.

So off I went. Five flights later I landed in the middle of the Pink City, Jaipur, in Northern India in the middle of a sweltering, 50 degree summer. I always forget how crowded India is, and how the smell of spices and sweets linger in the air for hours on end.


A man pushing a bicycle loaded with supplies in 50 degree heat outside Hawa Mahal with its 953 windows, in which Queens would view the Pink City, Jaipur, 2016

The beauty about Jaipur is that the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, is cherished in almost every aspect. Gandhi once said, “If we want to reach real peace in this world, we should start educating children.

I could not agree more. The first shelter I volunteered at was located in Govind Nagar, east of Jaipur, where I saw that the power of education and the forces of home values had a huge impact on the children that were coming in and out of the shelter. The children were rescued from exploitation in bangle factories, human trafficking assaults and family violence. For children that had been through so much, they had the brightest smiles across their faces and the most vibrant personalities and of course – possessed a willingness to learn. My time with the children was spent playing cultural games, dancing to Bollywood music, covering my hands with mehndi artwork and learning about the importance of safety and security in the surrounding areas.


Sita outside the Albert Hall Museum, oldest museum in the State of Rajastan, 2016

Once I left the children, I headed to a shelter that was dedicated to empowering women to foster their own source of income. This shelter was perched on top of a hill in east Jaipur, and screamed of a Who Runs the World? Girls type of aura. I loved it. Upon entering this shelter I was greeted by dozens of women who had experienced household abuse and trauma. The women were learning how to sew sari blouses and create hairstyles and makeup looks for brides, in the hopes to be hired by a bridal party, as big weddings are frequent in India. We talked about the importance of developing skill-based experiences in order to pursue a trade in India, and the meaning of quality of life and the most important aspect of that phrase, which is happiness.

Upon reflection, the values enforced by society, namely; women cannot seek an education, nor can they work, as education and employment is for men, impacts the mentality of the children and the women in a negative, and almost isolating way that reinforces outdated stereotypes. As such, the textbook version had not lived up to the reality of India. This presented me with a classic case of the realist vs. the dreamer; the wicked problems of society and the overall stability of India.


Sita at Winter Rose Gate, Pritam Niwas Chowk, City Palace, Jaipur, 2016

Across seas, and through time-zones, I think about the children and the women and the memories created with them. I am thankful to have had this experience to volunteer in India, and will ensure this journey is imprinted further into my education.

Sita is a Postgraduate GLP student in her final year of the Master of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism. Sita was able to claim this experience as part of her Cross Cultural Practicum. 

The Cross Cultural Practicum is one of the core components of the Postgraduate Global Leadership Program. The Practicum provides students with the opportunity to participate in cross-cultural and professional experiences, including overseas study, community service and attending internationally focused events. 

Making money to make change: understanding our Innovative Leader, Audette Exel AO

“She built a career on making millions for the rich, but her true achievement has been using her legal and financial nous to make money for the world’s poorest”. (David Leser, 2012)

Audette Exel is proof that doing good is not just for some professions.

Audette with Sr. Christine - head of the Kiwoko Hospital NICU

Audette with Sr.Christine – Head of the Kiwoko Hospital in Uganda which Audette’s organisation, Adara, supports. Photos courtesy of Adara.

In fact, GLP believes that no matter what you are studying or what you hope to achieve in your career, the prosperity of our societies requires graduates of all professions and disciplines to innovate on their work for a broader social good – and Audette Exel is a sterling example of this.

In the 1980s when she was a university student in Wellington, New Zealand, Audette had already well and truly embraced her activist nature and was taking part in pro-feminist and anti-Apartheid demonstrations. She went on to complete her Law degree at the University of Melbourne and received a sought-after role at Australian law firm, Allens where she specialised in mergers and acquisitions and structured finance.


Audette discovered a passion for skydiving in her youth, she was 16 years old when she made her first jump. Photos courtesy of Adara.

As it turned out – Audette loved finance, and was clearly very talented at it too, so she figured out how to fit in to her master plan. She says that “finance was a piece of knowledge about power and how the world really operates,” she says. “For me, it was about having that knowledge to then effect change.” (Bloomberg, 2013).

In the briefest description of an illustrious career, before establishing Adara, Audette;

  • was Managing Director of the Bermuda Commercial Bank making her one of the youngest women in the world to have run a publicly-traded bank
  • was Chairman of the Bermuda Stock Exchange
  • was on the Board of the Bermuda Monetary Authority, Bermuda’s central financial services regulator, and was Chair of its Investment Committee
  • practised as a lawyer specialising in international finance
  • began her career with Allen, Allen and Hemsley in Sydney before joining the English firm of Linklaters & Paines, in their Hong Kong office, and,
  • was called to the Bars of New South Wales, Australia, England and Wales and Bermuda.

But at 35,  Audette felt it was time to get back to her original mission. After a year of research on non profits and working out just how she could contribute to helping people living in poverty, Adara (then Isis) was conceptualised.

“The answer, she decided, lay in the experience she had gained running a bank”. (Bloomberg, 2013).

It’s what she describes as ‘making money to make change’, and it comes down to one mission. “While Bill Gates and George Soros only began to concentrate on giving after they became billionaires, Exel says she didn’t want to wait until she had amassed a fortune to begin her philanthropy. “It’s the purpose of the business,” she says. “There’s one mission.” (Bloomberg, 2013).

Adara is proof that the power of business can be used to improve the lives of people in poverty.

The Adara businesses are businesses for purpose rather than profit. Their sole objective is to fund Adara Development’s administration and emergency project costs. The Adara businesses have provided millions of dollars in core support costs to Adara Development since inception, allowing 100% of all other donations received to go directly to project-related costs. (Adara).

Adara Logo

So how can you start envisaging how to apply your own unique set of skills, knowledge and experiences to innovate for good?

By coming to hear from the tenacious Audette Exel, our keynote speaker at the Session 2, 2016 Innovative Leaders Series (ILS), and by taking advantage of the post-keynote networking with other GLP students who want to do the same.

The World Economic Forum named her Global Leader of Tomorrow, Forbes named her a “Hero of Philanthropy” in 2014, in 2015 she was inducted into the Australian Businesswomen’s Hall of Fame and in 2016 she was named Australia’s ‘Leading Philanthropist’ by Philanthropy Australia.

On Wednesday, September 28, Audette Exel AO will be speaking to you as GLP’s Innovative Leader; lawyer, international finance expert, philanthropist and innovator of ‘business for purpose’. For more information on Audette Exel AO and her organisation Adara Group, check out the Innovative Leaders Series section of your Session 2, 2016 GLP Guidebook and keep an eye on GLP’s Facebook group and emails.

Five minutes with Student Ambassador, Aditi Verma

Hi fellow GLPers!

I am in my third year of the Bachelor of Environment and I hope to continue my passions for community engagement and sustainable development.

What’s something that we don’t know about you? 

I have a pet rabbit that is (possibly) a Holland lop. We named her Lola after Bugs Bunny’s girlfriend because she looked like her when she was a kid.



Tell us about some of your extra-curricular experiences. Any highlights?

I’ve had a number of extra-curricular experiences because of the GLP. The biggest highlight has to be going to San Francisco, California on a semester long exchange program. I’ve also assisted in a research project called the (re)Generation Project where I researched the connections between young people and nature and got to go to the IUCN World Parks Congress in 2014 where I shook hands with Luvuyo Mandela (Nelson Mandela’s great grandson!). I’ve also done some community service with WIRES, which has led to some interesting experiences, including watching a panicked kangaroo get tranquillised and being bitten by a Rosella. Currently, I am interning at the Sydney Opera House and learning about the implementation of sustainability in organisations whilst calculating the carbon footprint of Vivid LIVE.


Aditi with members of the California State University, East Bay Earth and Environmental Sciences Club in the Pinnacles National Park, 2015

What advice would you give to students who are currently completing the Global Leadership Program? 

I think the GLP worries students because they feel it is something they absolutely must complete during their degree and that it has strict boundaries. But that’s not true at all! The GLP is what you want to make of your time at university. It is what you are passionate about and enjoy doing, whilst giving you official recognition. The GLP’s underlying theme of creating global citizens and leaders is what gives you the potential to be world-changing and aspiring change makers. So don’t be afraid to push your boundaries, test new waters and explore your opportunities!

What do you wish someone told you on your first day of University?

I wish someone told me that university isn’t the end of the world and that failure is a part of the natural learning process. I think I underestimated the reality of university after the HSC and thought that it would be much easier and more predictable. I was so wrong! But through all those mistakes, and ups and downs, I have become a stronger and more resilient person. I learned to accept and apply constructive feedback and use these lessons to thinking more positively.


Aditi with fellow exchange students at the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, 2015

What business, person or innovation has been your biggest motivator?

I have always been driven by the idea that people can change the world for the better. I think Malala Yousafzai is one of my biggest inspirations. Along with her drive for equal education for women, her willpower and fight to change the world is what I love and am inspired by.

What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve been given?

I think the greatest piece of advice I have been given by a lot of wonderful people (including GLP Advisor Emily!), is that whatever happens, happens for a reason and for the best. There are many challenging times where you might question why something has not turned out the way you expected or hoped for, but with one door closed, another opens.

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I don’t want to grow up any more but if I have to I would love to be involved with communities promoting sustainable development and practices. I strongly believe that people need to be involved in environmental protection and awareness in order for it to be effective and I hope I can promote this idea to others.


Aditi on a winter break field trip to White Cliffs, NSW with the Environmental Science Fieldwork (ENVE270) unit, 2015

Where would we find you in your spare time? 

I am a bit of a drifter and I like to move around a lot. But you are most likely to catch me trying to eat my lunch at Ubar whilst shooing away the bin chickens (i.e. Ibises), staring at the soils in the labs of E5A, or catching up with friends at Presse cafe.

Would you rather live by the beach or by the snow?

I wish I could have both but I might have to pick beach because snow involves me wearing so many layers that I end up looking like a giant marshmallow.


The Global Leadership Ambassadors are undergraduate students who actively participate in the GLP and want to share their diversity of experiences and enthusiasm with other students to inspire, motivate and advise them. Keep an eye out for them around campus and at GLP events.