This is a time of year when feelings of joy and thoughts of gratitude, good will to others and optimism ought to dominate our mindset. It is not easy for these positive feelings and thoughts to prevail in our minds and emotions when we are inundated daily with news of the difficult and complex problems we face on our planet.
Defeating terrorism, climate change, clean energy, widespread abject poverty in both Third World and developed countries, lack of access to a quality education for too many young people, supplying a burgeoning need for food and potable water to sustain a growing world population, finding a cure for cancer, malaria, Ebola and other ravaging diseases. These are but a few of the challenges.
For the SHAD community these challenges also represent great opportunity. During the past year, SHAD changed its tagline to “Uncommon Purpose” which we have defined as “when someone truly remarkable pursues their own potential to change the world for the better”. Here are some examples of “Uncommon Purpose”.
SHADs are the founders of social impact organizations such as Engineers Without Borders, Significance Labs, TakingItGlobal and the Youth Social Innovation Capital Fund. SHAD researchers have used supercomputers to research new pathways for treating cystic fibrosis, are helping patients understand their rare genetic diseases, are using microfluidic technologies and automated systems for solving problems in cancer research and molecular imaging, have obtained a provisional patent on transforming sound energy into electricity and are applying geo-biological research in extreme environments to the development of human space exploration concepts. SHAD entrepreneurs are founders of ventures that are leaders in providing on demand DNA testing, intelligent traffic data management solutions, predictive analytics to retail businesses, technology that enables employers to find their new talent through the power of cloud computing, social collaboration and video technology and an app to effortlessly align solar panels to capitalize on solar energy in developing countries. Along with this, in 2014 SHAD celebrates its 27th Rhodes Scholar.
Personally, I feel very fortunate that an organization like SHAD exists to empower exceptional youth to make the world a better place. I hope you do too. As you pause to reflect and count your blessings during this holiday season, may these examples of “Uncommon Purpose” help you experience joy, optimism and “visions of sugar plums dancing” in your head.