University of Cape Town (UCT) electrical engineering student Rowyn Naidoo is one of only two student representatives chosen for the Talloires Network of Engaged Universities’ Steering Committee.
Naidoo and his counterpart Susan Azizi of Kyrgyzstan, a student at the American University of Central Asia, will represent students from the network’s 417 affiliated universities based in 79 countries around the globe. The steering committee’s chairperson is Dr Anthony Monaco, president of Tufts University in the United States.
The Talloires Network is the largest international network focused on university civic engagement and works to strengthen member institutions’ civic roles and social responsibilities, in line with the Talloires Declaration. Through collaboration with communities and partners, the Network aims to tackle challenges such as disease, famine, structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequality and climate change.
“I feel truly honoured and excited to be representing students from so many different institutions, cultures, languages and nations.”
Naidoo’s role will be to serve as an ambassador for the network and amplify the student voice in these activities. The role will offer significant service and leadership opportunities.
“I feel truly honoured and excited to be representing students from so many different institutions, cultures, languages and nations,” said Naidoo. “Being part of a global network [like this] helps you grow and achieve successes you cannot achieve on your own.”
Growing student leaders
The final-year engineering student is passionate about creating supportive environments and opportunities for other students to thrive and become global leaders.
Earlier this year, Naidoo was one of four UCT students who received grants in the global Schmidt Futures’ Reimagine Challenge. The challenge was launched in August 2020 to harness students’ best ideas for building a better future. Naidoo is also a member of and former project manager for UCT student society Enactus, an incubator for social enterprises.
“I strongly believe in the power of social entrepreneurship as a vehicle to solve societal problems while meeting people’s basic needs,” he said.
While these and other opportunities at UCT have honed his development and leadership skills, Naidoo said that participating in the university’s student residence leadership structures have played a significant role.
Naidoo was head student of the first steering committee of off-campus residence My Domain in Wynberg. This committee was awarded the Most Outstanding Team in Residence Life at the 2018 UCT Student Leadership Awards. He was later a unit coordinator (subwarden) and part of several other residence committees.
He paid tribute to Residence Life’s Sean Abrahams, who had mentored him on this journey. “This is testament to the exposure, training and opportunities UCT Student Housing and Residence Life affords student leaders,” he said. “I was able to grow from representing students in my residence to representing multiple universities and their students across the world as part of the Talloires Network of Engaged Universities’ Steering Committee.”
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