Wow! I can’t believe it’s almost time for my fourth Nobel Peace Prize Forum. The NPPF is easily one of my favorite times of the academic year, and I can honestly say that the Forum has played an enormous role in shaping my life and who I am today. Starting my freshman year at Concordia College, I was encouraged to attend the Forum by one of my biology professors because the theme was focused on climate change. The opportunity to hear world-renowned speakers, former Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, network with non-profits and organizations from around the world, and spend time talking about pressing issues with other students did not really hit me until I arrived at St. Olaf College. The events over those two days opened my eyes to issues relating to climate change, environmental destruction, and fiscal and environmental sustainability. It was at this Forum that I met representatives from a program called Summer of Solutions. After speaking with them, I devoted my entire next summer to volunteering with this organization doing community organizing work around sustainability issues in the Twin Cities. This experience helped me develop as a leader and motivated me to contribute much more to Concordia when I returned to school. It was because of these experiences that I added a major in environmental studies, as well as biology. Since that time, I have helped initiate numerous sustainability projects at Concordia and in my community. I am sure none of this would have ever happened had I not attended the Forum.
It’s an exciting time of year for me, but I am also taking time to reflect on what the Forum has done for me. Without the Forum, I would not be the person I am today. I have no doubt of that. I will most definitely miss having this same opportunity after I graduate from Concordia this year. I give my most sincere thanks to all of the organizations, institutions, and individuals who give their time, effort, and resources to ensure the continued excellence of the Forum. Although this will likely be my last Forum (at least until I finish dental school in four years) I simply hope students from all over the region, and all over the nation, will take advantage of this opportunity, and attend the Forum as often as possible.