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UHD alum Achol Mayen is determined to change the world, or at least her portion of it. As a native of South Sudan, the world's newest nation, she has big plans to bring aid to the war-torn and famine-stricken country.
Mayen, a poised and beautiful young woman, graduated from UHD with a degree in psychology in 2012. She was born in the southern region of Sudan in 1986 and when the civil wars became too dangerous, her family was forced to flee to Egypt and then the United States. The Mayen family moved to Austin in 1996 and began living the American dream.
Even in a new country, Mayen was passionate about helping her community. She volunteered with Catholic Charities, the same organization that helped her family resettle in Texas, and networked with other South Sudanese in the area. She began to see a need for an organization committed to the growth and cultural education of South Sudanese youth.
"My family and I were always discussing the need to start a movement or an organization for the youth of my homeland to influence our nation building, bring about social change and promote our ethnic identity," she said. "There are now entire generations of South Sudanese who were born in America and don't have a strong connection to our homeland. I want to change that."
Mayen, along with several friends and family members, started Y.E.S.S. - Youth Empowering Society through Service, an organization that will focus on bringing aid and self-sustaining farming methods to South Sudan, as well as promoting youth action.
"For now, Y.E.S.S. is focusing on helping South Sudan, but I want this organization to become global," she said. "I want to create a model that other young people across the world can adopt and use in their own societies."
To jump start her initiative, Mayen was invited to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University, held March 30 through April 1, 2012 at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
While at the conference, Mayen had the opportunity to interact with other young adults eager to enact change in the world and to speak personally with President Bill Clinton, who offered advice and even collected her contact information.
When she's not saving the world, Mayen also models and works as a social work intern at Catholic Charities. After returning from a summer research trip to South Sudan, Mayen plans to enroll in a graduate social work or psychology program.
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Last updated or reviewed on 10/2/12