Students are Catalysts for International Development

Posted on: 15 June 2016

Students Matthew Day, Baylen Campbell and Maegan McConnell, from the Trinity-UCD MSc in Developmental Practice, are among Rhize’s Emerging Catalysts for their exceptional work in trying to solve global challenges in international development.

Emerging Catalysts are exceptional young people involved in a wide-range of societal issues including democracy, human rights, food security and climate justice. The Emerging Catalyst Network is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which seeks to support young activists and organisers, while Rhize is a crowd-sourcing platform for social and political action.

The three students have each started their own NGO’s and are working in different corners of the globe: Matthew Day is currently in Tanzania working with local communities on energy poverty and developing a new framework to measure access to energy; Baylen Campbell is currently in Washington DC, and has just completed a research placement with Amnesty Worldwide; Maegan McConnell is performing ground-breaking research in Mexico by working on mental health issues within local communities.

The students said: “We are excited to be selected into the Rhize program. We think it’s great that Rhize is looking towards young leaders for change in the way we approach development. It’s pretty unreal to think that such a high-profile project has selected us, and we are looking forward to giving our input and working towards building a strong network of young leaders.”

Matthew Day is CEO and Co-founder of SSA Technical (SSAtech). Specialising in rural development, off-grid energy systems, agriculture and ICT for development, he is currently working as a primary contact in Tanzania. Founded in 2015, SSAtech uses a unique combination of renewable off-grid energy systems, micro-finance, and capacity building programs to address energy poverty in rural communities.

Matthew Day said: “We use micro-finance as a vehicle to supply rural communities with PV modules for households and economic institutions. We then select local youths to be fully trained in the installation, maintenance and repair of the systems. We are currently working on implementing projects in two villages in Northern Tanzania — Bugisi and Moita.“

Baylen Campbell is co-founder of Global Development Consulting, along with fellow Trinity students Gilly O’Sullivan, Anna Janneson, and Maegan McConnell. This new start-up aims to provide tailored development solutions for NGOs and private-sector entities. In the past, Baylen has been highly involved in various activist groups in the US and Italy, working primarily on the issue of refugee and migrant’s rights.

Maegan McConnell has recently started non-profit Peace In Minds, which aims to increase access to mental health education for healthcare professionals and community leaders in isolated and developing communities. This improved education will allow for better identification of mental health concerns in the community, as well as increasing the ability for risk assessment. Peace In Minds is striving to improve mental health and wellness in communities all over the world.

Maegan McConnell said: “It’s great to know I have the support of such a great initiative. My research and area of work in mental health has little to no visibility in development at this time, but having the support of Rhize and all the other individuals selected means a lot for the further growth and promotion of mental health in development.”

Matthew, Baylen and Maegan have been individually selected to present research related to their work at the Conference for Sustainable Development at Colombia University in New York this coming September.

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