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2018 Youn Impact Scholars

Kellogg announces 2018 Youn Impact Scholars

The addition of 10 new Scholars brings the network to 50 alumni changemakers

By Sara Langen

3/26/2018 - From promoting health equity to using media and entertainment for social advocacy, this year’s 10 new Kellogg Youn Impact Scholars represent a wide range of possibilities for leveraging business to create social innovation.

Kellogg’s Youn Impact Scholars was named after Andrew Youn ’06, co-founder of the One Acre Fund. In adding new members each year, Kellogg recognizes students and alumni who are forging important change in the realm of social impact. Each year, five “Emerging Changemakers” and five “Impact Leaders” are named to the elite network. Now in its fifth year, the program has 50 Scholars in total, spanning from Kellogg graduation years ’81 to ’18.

The intent of the program is to create a powerful community of social actors and innovators who embody Kellogg’s commitment to creating positive, significant and sustainable impact in the world. Living up to the impact standard set by Youn, the group’s namesake, won’t be easy. The One Acre Fund recently announced that they’re on track to exceed their goal of serving 780,000 smallholder farm families across Africa this year, bringing farmers and their children durably out of poverty.

The network will meet to collaborate and share ideas for its biennial gathering in the days before Reunion in May.

Spurring and supporting social innovation

The Youn Impact Scholars program recognizes students and alumni who are launching or leading enterprises, influencing policy decisions and leveraging the private sector for positive social change.

“Kellogg’s Youn Impact Scholars represent the amazing work of alumni who forge impact around the world. This year’s new cohort highlights the breadth we see in approaches to impact and leveraging business skills to change human and environmental outcomes,” says Megan Kashner, Clinical Assistant Professor and Director of Social Impact at Kellogg.

The program is made possible through a generous gift from Northwestern Trustee Chris Combe and his family, who are committed to supporting social impact at Kellogg. “Each year brings a new group of incredible students and alumni into the Youn Impact Scholars fold. We’re proud and pleased to be a part of this celebration and collaboration around impact,” shares Combe.

Creating a community of thought leaders

The opportunity to be part of a network that seeks to change the world is what prompted Chikemma Nwana ’18 to apply to become a Youn Impact Scholar. The co-founder of Water For Life Nigeria, a nonprofit organization that provides clean water to underserved communities in rural Nigeria, Nwana is eager to learn from the network while contributing her experience to others in the space.

“There are many avenues in which one can connect with people in other career-related fields; however for social impact, such avenues are limited,” she says. “I wanted to be part of a talented group of people who desire to create social impact, one day a time.”

Scholar Alykhan Kaba ’18 hopes the shared conversations, resources and ideas that develop from such an esteemed community of thought leaders will help him think about his social impact goals in new and exciting ways. Using media and entertainment as a platform for social advocacy, Kaba is working to build both industries in post-conflict zones as a vehicle for social and economic development. One example is his work managing Kabul Dreams, the first rock band from Afghanistan. The band serves as a voice for Afghans fighting radical ideologies and a cultural bridge between Afghans, Muslims and Americans.

“Most of the interactions I have with people in the entertainment industry are about how to run a profitable media business, not how to run a media business that impacts people’s lives,” Kaba says. “I applied to the Youn Impact Scholars program so I could build a network of like-minded thought partners to help prepare me for the challenges I’ll face later in my career by learning from others who have pursued a path like my own.”

Here is a full list of this year’s Youn Impact Scholars:

Emerging Changemakers 
  • Akanksha Arya ’18
  • Kathryn Bernell ’18
  • Chikemma Nwana ’18
  • Alykhan Kaba ’18
  • Ruthie Hubbard ’18

Impact Leaders
  • Chris Addy ’07, Bridgespan
  • Sarah Berghorst ’10, OneGoal
  • Stacy Ratner ’18, Open Books/Chicago Literacy Alliance
  • John Rush ’11, CleanTurn Enterprises
  • Nikki Tyler ’13, USAID’s Center for Accelerating Innovation and Impact

Coming together

Akanksha Arya ’18 is excited to meet her fellow Scholars at this spring’s gathering and learn how to turn great ideas into real solutions. An MD candidate at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Arya plans to integrate her business and medical skills to improve healthcare access for all.

“I look forward to learning how other scholars have brought together their diverse skills to advance their missions,” she says. “Through their examples, I hope to adopt best practices and grow into an effective leader.”

Arya hopes to benefit from the insights of accomplished fellow Scholars, such as Nikki Tyler ’13, market access advisor at USAID’s Center for Accelerating Innovation and Impact, which applies business-minded approaches to the world's most important health challenges.

When this group of social innovators comes together, there can be no telling what creative and complementary outcomes, partnerships and initiatives will result.