Susan Miller speaks to a new Honos Civicus Member
Joining this year’s inductees were Honos Civicus alumni, Adam White, E09; Tai Dinnan, A09; and Tala Kayyali, A11. The three mingled with the newest Honos Civicus members, sharing their stories of active citizenship after graduation.
The group was also joined by Jumbos Susan Miller, J70, AG73, E96P, A98P, and her husband Peter L. Miller Jr. E70, E96P, A98P. This year, Susan Miller was recognized with the Distinguish Service Award from Tufts University Alumni Association for her dedication as an alumna volunteer and Alumni Council member. An independent consultant and attorney, Miller is also an active ‘citizen lawyer’ providing legal and consulting services on a range of pressing health care issues.
White, a graduate of the School of Engineering, commented on how life after graduation doesn’t always take you where you plan – but active citizenship remains a constant feature.
Adam White, E09
A winner of the World Bank’s Innovation prize, graduate of the London School of Economics’ City Design and Social Sciences program, and co-founder of Groupshot, a design consultancy on the bleeding-edge of the confluence of social entrepreneurship, international development, and distributed technologies, Adam White, E09, has been a very active citizen since graduating Honos Civicus four years ago.
“I was a pretty typical engineering student for my first two years at Tufts,” said White. A growing interest in the applications of what he was learning in his courses led White to the Education for Public Inquiry and International Citizenship (EPIIC) program, and to the student group Engineers Without Borders (EWB).
“It was a transformation from asking ‘How do we build this bridge?’ to ‘Where is a bridge needed?” he said. “Engineers are great at optimizing for certain characteristics, but they haven’t always been as good at asking what they should be optimizing for.” Projects on community health in north Haiti and wind power in Ethiopia followed.
Through a class at the Experimental College in the School of Arts and Sciences, White met Patrick Meier, F12. Meier, an expert in conflict early warning and response, was a board member of Ushahidi, a non-profit tech company that specializes in developing free and open source software for information collection, visualization, and interactive mapping. When the 2010 Haiti earthquake struck, White connected Meier to his networks in Haiti – allowing Ushahidi to create tools for those on the ground to feed information in real-time to responders via text messaging.
This connection of the socially minded with the technically capable to produce relevant and useful designs for the developing world is the model at Groupshot. Working in partnership with organizations like Columbia’s Earth Institute on mass-transit in Nairobi, the Sesame Street Workshops on educational games for mobile phones in India, and leading microlender Kiva on programs in Kenya, they focus on scaling solutions and cross-pollinating ideas.
White sees a real need for civic honors.
“Organizations reward people in strange ways,” he said. “In the past honors have focused on grades. I see Honos Civicus as a way to recognize something that’s more difficult to assess – engagement and involvement with the world. It speaks to the value of an education that gets outside the classroom and the lab.”
Originally published May 2012