Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Hey, friends! Spiffy here, back with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Dr. Abigail Canales Ibarra, partnerships manager at Millennium Campus Network (MCN). Let’s learn what’s happening at MCN and how Dr. Abigail is making a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Hi, Dr. Abigail! Thanks for talking with me today. Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through MCN?
Dr. Abigail: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! Marie Curie once said, "You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must work for his own improvement and, at the same time, share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful." In light of pressing global issues such as the ongoing pandemic and climate change, it is crucial that leaders exhibit empathy and humility while promoting inclusive collaboration across borders and institutions. As we approach the last seven years to achieve the SDGs, it is essential to reevaluate our methods and find ways to empower and unite the youth toward achieving sustainable goals.
Spiffy: Your organization and timing are both critical. What motivates you to do it?
Dr. Abigail: During my time as a medical student practicing in private and public hospitals in Mexico, I had the opportunity to participate as a Millennium Fellow in 2018. Witnessing the stark differences between the two healthcare sectors deeply affected me. It was heartbreaking to see children being denied treatment simply because they couldn't afford it. This experience inspired me to take action and pursue systemic change. I believe that by working together and fighting for a better future, we can make a significant impact in our communities and address the inequalities that persist. In MCN I found a family of like-minded individuals, who are dedicated to creating a more just and equitable world.
Spiffy: I am so happy you found family in a great community for change. What is the impact of your work?
Dr. Abigail: MCN and United Nations Academic Impact serves undergraduate students across the world. In 2022, over 31,000 young leaders applied for the Millennium Fellowship. In 2021, we selected and supported 2,018 undergraduate students on 136 campuses across 30 nations. These young leaders gained training, connections, and credentials through the Millennium Fellowship. Through the program, these leaders applied what they learned in real-time and contributed over 247,763 hours to 1,083 unique community projects (from community gardens to tackle food insecurity to mental health advocacy efforts), positively impacting the lives of over 1,665,230 people.
Spiffy: That sounds amazing! Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Dr. Abigail: MCN partners with the United Nations Academic Impact to present the Millennium Fellowship annually. Over 30,000 applicants apply each year (until April) with a commitment to learn and share with others and a proposed Fellowship project advancing one or more of the SDGs locally. Selected Millennium Fellows are announced in August, and, for each selected campus, there are about eight to 30 Fellows. The Fellows commit to meeting for six sessions as campus cohorts between August and November, and to engaging in virtual webinars with peers worldwide around shared interests.
Spiffy: Very cool. Good luck with your next wave of selected Fellows! Thanks for speaking with me today, Dr. Abigail—it’s been an honor!
As the partnerships manager at MCN and a medical doctor, Dr. Abigail Canales Ibarra is deeply committed to driving positive change in the areas of education, gender equality, and public health. Her passion for these issues fuels her work and motivates her to seek out partnerships and collaborations that can help bring about meaningful progress. She believes that through dedicated efforts and partnerships, we can create a more equitable and just world for all. (First published on the Ladderworks website on May 25, 2023.)
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.
© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Lindsey Brannon. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.