While many students are planning spring break visits to the beach, University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast student Ambere Riggs received an invitation to Washington, D.C. to learn more about what she can do to help others through CARE, a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty.
Riggs, who contacted CARE after founding a chapter at the university’s Gulf Park campus, was invited to attend the organization’s 2011 conference and International Women’s Day Celebration in March. In appreciation for her efforts to spread CARE’s message, the organization provided her with a scholarship to pay for her hotel stay during the conference.
On Riggs’ first night of the conference, she and 1,200 conference attendees were welcomed with a concert featuring artists India Arie, Michael Franti and American Idol runner-up Crystal Bowersox. Riggs was both inspired and energized by the concert, which celebrated International Women’s Day.
“The conference was off to a great start because we learned so much about what CARE does and how we can help,” said Riggs. “It was really interesting to hear about what all the organization does around the world and how we can participate by starting organizations on campuses, in communities and just spreading the word.”
Throughout the conference, high-profile speakers, such as Melinda Gates and former First Lady Laura Bush, shared their stories and inspiration with attendees. Following a keynote address from Bush, Riggs met one of Bush’s twin daughters, Barbara. Riggs says she made the most of her visit and took every opportunity to learn from the conference sessions and network with other attendees.
“I learned about various organizations around the United States and I spoke to the people who started these organizations,” said Riggs. “We discussed how they raise funds for people around the world and it was really interesting to see what they have been able to accomplish.”
While the conference covered many important facets of humanitarianism, one important element became clear on the last day when attendees were given the opportunity to discuss their concerns with senators and congressmen on Capitol Hill. Riggs, whose personal platform is education, believes girls and women throughout the world are entitled to a good education.
“Being a student, I feel like everyone should have an education,” said Riggs. “There are places in the world where mothers will choose their sons to get an education because they can’t afford to send all their children. When their daughters don’t get an education mainly due to lack of finances, it becomes cyclical because mothers will never have the money because they were never educated. It all really comes down to education.”
Riggs was recently accepted into the Southern Miss Gulf Coast undergraduate nursing program. After graduation, she hopes to continue her education either in medical school or as a midwife and then join or establish an organization on midwifery to educate women in poor countries on delivering healthy babies and caring for mothers.
The CARE chapter at Southern Miss Gulf Coast is open to the community as well as university students. To learn more about CARE at Southern Miss Gulf Coast, contact Ambere Riggs at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Southern Miss University Communications photo by © 2011 Andrew Councill/CARE)