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Students make an impACT on CMC’s campus to foster Social Entrepreneurship

Posted October 24, 2013 in Leadership, News

By Pieter Cornel ’14 and Tawney Hughes ’14

Over the course of the past months, a student initiative has formed under the leadership of the Kravis Leadership Institute. This initiative, aptly named impACT (Inspiration, Mission, Passion, ACTION), seeks to promote social awareness and innovation at Claremont McKenna College and the other Claremont Colleges. There are a number of groups around the campuses focused on social issues, but the leaders of impACT saw an opportunity to utilize, improve, and build on preexisting resources.

impACT is a campus driven initiative that fosters social entrepreneurship by combining the education and co-curricular opportunities offered by CMC. The goals of the initiative are to accelerate the social change opportunities already in existence, to foster a community of social entrepreneurs, and to complement the mission of CMC to produce socially responsible leaders.

It was established because many students and faculty recognized that there is an existing social entrepreneurial spirit on campus and that there is a need for cohesion amongst all of the ideas, people, and clubs working toward this cause. Marissa Mirbach ’16, one of the student impACT leaders, describes this, saying, “It was evident CMC had the resources, but combining them could really create an impact on a larger scale, thus the name impACT.”

Expressing a similar sentiment, Kyra McAndrews ’15, the other student impACT leader, notes, “Social entrepreneurship is a great way of tying the CMC education together, using the government, psychology, and economics skills to jumpstart social change and keep momentum. Basic entrepreneurship is business and technology driven, and there are some brilliant and cool ideas but there is no definite impact on society. Social entrepreneurship just has the larger picture in mind.”

There is an upper division leadership team that spearheads the initiative. It includes KLI staff members, two student impACT leaders, three department/institute heads, Claremont community leaders, and a senior Ashoka fellow. The executive leadership team looks ahead, setting the vision for long-term impact, and the student impACT team is on the ground promoting. Currently, there are 25 student leaders and innovators involved, but the number is expected to grow.

The vision for the coming academic year is to hold a few events and build awareness about what the team is doing within the student body. “We really want to make social entrepreneurship more than a buzzword. People know about it, but they don’t really know what it is. It is a lifestyle, and we want to expose that,” says McAndrews. There are four existing subgroups within the student impACT to engage students from all backgrounds and interests:

  • Events- Works on creating events and opportunities to get the Claremont community invested in social entrepreneurship. These may range from educational opportunities, like speaker series, practicums, and movie screenings, to hands-on experiential learning.
  • Technology- Works on fostering our name/mission across various social media platforms (our blog , a new Facebook page/group, twitter…), as well as researching technology-driven social innovation.
  • Careers- Aims to look past students’ years at CMC, reaching out to the Career Center and Alumni to demonstrate that CMC students can actually have a professional future in doing social good.
  • Curriculum- Aims to get more faculty support for the Changemaker Campus, develop potential programs to enhance CMC’s social innovation side academically and achieve other goals.

The student team is comprised of upperclassmen who realize the importance of social entrepreneurship, students involved in social entrepreneurial ventures, and students who just know that they want to bring about some change in the world. It is open to both the private and public sector.

As far as long-term goals, the student leaders hope to create a strong network. McAndrews notes, “Our long term goal and vision for impACT is to have all graduates of CMC realize that social change will be a determining factor in our futures, no matter our field. Being a socially responsible leader is imperative to being successful in our lives. Not everyone has to be a social entrepreneur, but everyone should have an understanding of social change as a means of creating a better future.” Moreover, she adds that another long term goal is to “tweak the CMC mission to include social change,” focusing on the notion of social entrepreneurship as “a driving force and defining factor for CMC as a liberal arts college.”

As a student-run initiative, impACT welcomes all students interested in entrepreneurship and social innovation, as well as any student who is interested in working closely with a new initiative. If you are interested, please contact student impACT leaders Kyra McAndrews ( or Marissa Mirbach (, attn: Student impACT.

[Pictured: Kyra McAndrews ’15 and Neela Rajendra]