Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269
February 10, 2010
MSU Billings freshman Kristen Horton is spearheading a campaign to bring awareness of issues of extreme poverty and preventable disease to her fellow students. Much of the work is spread through the ONE.org website.
One step at a time, MSU Billings freshman works to make a difference
Passion for issues in poor countries shapes student’s commitment
By Dan Carter
MSU Billings News Services
She’s a student who wants to be a nurse, who also wants to be a missionary who also wants to make her fellow students more aware of the plight of millions of people around the world. All while serving as the campus point person for an international advocacy organization.
But Horton says she is up to the challenge. In fact, she hopes that other students at Montana State University Billings are ready to confront some important global issues.
Through a new grassroots organization called ONE, Horton is calling on her friends, classmates and just about anyone who will listen to raise awareness of extreme poverty and preventable diseases in the poorest places on the planet, especially Africa.
“I just saw this as a way I could help,” said Horton, a Billings West High School graduate and a freshman doing pre-nursing studies. “It was something I could do.”
Horton became passionate about missionary work this past summer when she made a trip with friends to Ethiopia. She was entrusted with the care and education of 25 orphans during the mission and the level of suffering stuck with her. When she started classes at MSU Billings last fall, she said she wanted to do more, especially at the university.
“Now that I’ve been there, I made up my mind that I needed to help others understand that there’s something going on in Africa that needs to be addressed,” she said.
Through contacts with friends and some internet research, she found out about ONE (www.one.org). The organization is a grassroots campaign and advocacy organization backed by more than 2 million people who are committed to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease. Co-founded by Bono from the rock band U2 and other campaigners, ONE is nonpartisan and works closely with African policy makers and activists.
But how does advocacy, no matter how passionate, morph into action?
A major part of the ONE endeavor is the Campus Challenge. Tapping into the natural competitive spirit that runs through the hallways of every college campus, it provides a way to raise awareness in the fight against extreme poverty and disease while also training the next generation of advocates. The ONE Campus Challenge (OCC) provides college and university students with different actions to mobilize and educate their peers. Once a challenge or action has been completed, a campus can score points.
“Getting points helps to motivate students to get involved,” Horton said.
But the real motivation, she said, is joining with others to make a difference for the future.
It’s not lost on her that more than 1 billion people around the world are living on less than $1.25 a day, about half the amount of money many of her college colleagues spend on a latte every day. And many of those same people fight AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases.
“I’m sure that if more people (at MSU Billings) knew about the AIDS crisis and poverty, they’d be willing to help,” she said.
So far, that bet is paying off. Through her continual and passionate one-on-one efforts with friends, classmates and others, she has organized a new student group at MSU Billings tied to the ONE effort and is spreading the word through petitions and information.
“It’s busy,” she said. “I feel like I need to work on something at least once a week.”
And her networking is starting to take off.
Just before the epic “snow-torius” blizzards hit the East Coast this past week, Horton took part in the “Power 100 Summit” anti-poverty summit in Washington, D.C. One hundred college students from across the U.S. were chosen to participate in the weekend leadership summit sponsored by ONE.
“It was an amazing experience,” she said. “I also had a “Lobby Day” where I asked Montana Senator Max Baucus to fund programs proven to reduce extreme poverty, improve global health, and ensure access to food for millions of people.”
The summit, organized and paid for by ONE, brought together student leaders from 100 campuses across the country. Over the weekend of Jan. 29-Feb. 1, students came together to share and devise new strategies on engaging fellow students to be advocates on poverty issues and heard from well-known speakers, policy experts and activists. Speakers included Robert Draper, contributor to The New York Times and National Geographic; filmmaker Chai Vasarhelyi (“I Bring What I Love”); Mark Green, managing policy director of Malaria No More; and the Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World.
For more about the ONE challenge at MSU Billings, contact Horton at firstname.lastname@example.org. The link to the MSU Billings campus challenge site can be found at www.one.org/campus/ and by selecting Montana State University Billings in the menu.
PHOTOS ABOVE: Kristen Horton showing the website of the ONE.org site and the other during her mission to Ethiopia last summer.