David Ives, executive director of the Albert Schweitzer Institute, has been bringing Quinnipiac delegations to the summit for the past seven years. The summit reinforces the University’s mission of exposing students to international experiences to inspire them to actively participate in the affairs of the world.
“Students here have the opportunity to work with important people who are actively addressing real-world problems,” said Ives. He remarked that “words without action are just words.”
Tomlinson took that message to heart. She was determined to take more away from the summit than idealistic discussion and made a point of seeking out several high-profile figures, including the U.N. ambassador to Jamaica, and the executive director of the Desmond Tutu Foundation.
“It’s not enough for me that we simply come here, have these powerful conversations, and then just leave,” Tomlinson noted. This was her fourth summit –– last year’s was in Barcelona.
She said she especially enjoyed her conversation with philanthropist and business magnate Sir Richard Branson, who was honored with this year’s Peace Summit Award for his significant contributions to peace building and human rights. “I knew I could not leave without saying something to him,” said Tomlinson. “I was absolutely determined.”
The pair discussed public health and education issues, particularly ways to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline in at-risk communities. Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, was so impressed with Tomlinson’s passion and commitment to action that he invited her to connect with Virgin Unite, a nonprofit that funds entrepreneurial solutions to global issues. Tomlinson’s goal is to help facilitate a partnership between Virgin Unite and the Albert Schweitzer Institute.
Tomlinson, who plans a career in international advocacy, also impressed several of the Nobel Laureates, particularly Leymah Gbowee, who told Tomlinson she possesses “the right ingredients” to be a world leader.
“She also said she’d always remember my face among the many at the summit. That meant a great deal to me,” she said.