Erica Gregg never thought that her experience at IUPUC would lead to speaking at the United Nations in New York City. But it did.
Originally from the upper peninsula of Michigan, this Columbus Christian School graduate and IUPUC freshman started her UN journey last fall when she chose to take a class from Purdue Polytechnic Columbus titled Design Thinking in Technology. The class, taught by Dr. Jon Padfield, had students pick a global issue, define a piece that they could help change, and then create solutions based on their problem statement. Erica and her team chose the topic of human trafficking and how it relates to youth, and youth in sexual slavery.
As the semester progressed, Dr. Padfield saw the potential impact of the project and reached out to the United Nations. “Erica and her team went more in-depth for this project than I had ever previously seen in this class,” said Dr. Padfield. “They were involved, motivated, and were having fun with the project. Their hard work and their subject matter were both factors in me choosing to contact the UN to see if they could present at the Global Engagement Summit.”
The result was an invitation to present the project at the United Nations Global Engagement Summit which is an international event engaging youth from around the globe to make positive changes in the world. The event was held on February 22, 2019 in New York City.
Although the event was a fantastic opportunity for Erica, it didn’t come without challenges, including the anxiety of speaking in front of almost 2000 people. “I had never spoken in front of that many people in my life,” said Erica, “so to say that I was nervous is an incredible understatement.”
However, with several months of practicing her presentation, and having a faculty member she could turn to for advice, she and fellow teammate Zoey Wagner successfully presented the project. In addition, they were able to discuss the project with many leaders of global nonprofits that specialize in ending human trafficking and raise awareness for this issue.
“Speaking at the United Nations to that many people was like a dream,” Erica said. “I feel honored to have had this opportunity and it would not have been possible without Dr. Padfield taking the time to reach out to the United Nations on our behalf.”
When Erica returned to Columbus after the Global Engagement Summit ended, she felt like a changed woman. “I am more confident now and am empowered to raise awareness to help fight human trafficking. This opportunity has meant the world to me and I can’t wait to see what’s next.”
What’s next for the IUPUC freshman is completing her undergraduate degree and then hopefully a career in business, law, or politics upon graduation.