Supported by the Millennium Campus Network and the United Nations Academic Impact program, the Millennium Fellowship program chooses student leaders and campuses for this semester-long student leadership development effort. The initiative helps students strengthen their communities while advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development goals.
For the first time, UNC Charlotte will be a campus hub for the highly prestigious Millennium Fellowship program, with 20 undergraduate students from across the University chosen to implement the program’s L.I.F.E. Skills Initiative with area high school students. The community-focused initiative, centers on Lifestyle, Interpersonal, Finance and Education proficiencies.
Of the 20 students selected, three hail from the Belk College of Business. Using their interests inside and outside of the college, these students joined the cohort for a unique service opportunity.
The three Belk College students chosen as Millennium Fellows chosen at UNC Charlotte are:
Zachary Burgan, Operations and Supply Chain Management
Andrew Fiorentino, Political Science and International Business
Sayali Jadhav, Health Systems Management and Management Information Systems
“This unexpected opportunity came at the perfect time,” says Zak Burgan, one of three Belk College of Business students selected for the program. “I had recently declared my major and wanted to focus on local and global community service. The U.N. Millennium Fellowship program allowed me to create a project that I was passionate about.”
UNC Charlotte is among the top 6 percent of institutions globally to host the Millennium Fellowship program this fall. It is one of 69 chosen from the more than 1,200 applicant campuses from 135 nations and is the only one selected in North Carolina. Other U.S. universities include Arizona State University, Cornell University, Georgetown University, Georgia Institute of Technology and Harvard University.
“Our plan is to bring in a financial education non-profits from Charlotte to speak about taxes, budgets and loans,” says Burgan. “We will work with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and students to make sure the topics covered are relevant to what they need and want.”
The students will develop a plan of action using a toolkit designed to help them work as a team to consider core values, refine their skills and take informed action. They come from a variety of fields of study and backgrounds, which means their ideas and approaches will draw from diverse perspectives.
“The students deserve the accolades for theirs and the University’s selection,” said Jennifer Warner, who encouraged the students to apply.
“This is a very prestigious award, and the students chosen as Millennium Fellows are committed to addressing an important community issue, while also inspiring people to seek ways to make change happen,” she said. “Our student leaders worked incredibly hard to find a project, meet with interested students and get each student's primary and secondary applications through. They deserve so much credit.”
Warner, who directs the LEADS program in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and is a faculty member in the Department of Biological Sciences, partnered with Mary Jo Shepherd, a faculty member in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration who administers the Model United Nations program at UNC Charlotte, to guide the students. They will remain involved in a volunteer advisory role with the fellows.
“We are so excited for these students and for the University,” Shepherd said. “We expect some creative solutions from these students, and we also know they will elevate their leadership as they learn from and challenge each other around the important issue they have chosen to consider. We saw this process as another significant way for students throughout the University to develop their leadership skills and expand their vision.”
Photos: (by Lynn Roberson) Millennium Fellows gather for their first planning meeting (top); (provided by Zak Burgan) Millennium Fellows pose for group photo.