January 28, 2020

A select group of Up to Us alumni were given the opportunity to attend the Clinton Foundation’s Domestic Policy Conference on Economic Inclusion and Growth in Little Rock, Arkansas this past November. In this blog series, hear from the inspiring individuals who attended the event. Our alumni always make us proud as they continue to take advantage of the incredible opportunities and motivational network within the Up to Us community. 

Michael Stefanko with Katelyn Sethi and Hilary Clinton at the Clinton Foundation’s Domestic Economic Conference.
Michael Stefanko and fellow Up to Us alumni Katelyn Sethi with Hilary Clinton

Telling my professors that I was flying to Arkansas on a Tuesday to meet President Clinton was an interesting conversation to have. As an Up to Us participant, I've had access to incredible opportunities across the United States, including all-expenses-paid travel to Little Rock to attend a conference at the Clinton Foundation headquarters. The conference was incredibly exciting as I was exposed to brand new ideas regarding policy and economics, two fields that I am currently studying at Cornell. The conference centered around President Clinton's creation of the Community Development Financial Institutions, also known as CDFIs. A CDFI is a bank dedicated to serving low-income and underbanked communities in the United States. I learned the ins and outs of CDFIs, and I also garnered an entirely new perspective as to what a private bank can do to better a community. Because of the conference, I was invited to another event in Seattle for next semester.

As an Up to Us team leader, I have been given so many different opportunities to advance myself and my career. Aside from access to incredible educational resources like scholarships to Harvard Business School Online, there are many life-changing professional opportunities. One such opportunity is the Up to Us internship. As an Up to Us intern, I had the privilege to work in the Net Impact offices in Oakland, California, for eight weeks. At my internship, I researched economic policy and debt as it relates to healthcare, climate change, and other important policy areas. The internship dramatically shaped my career path as I have now decided to pursue work in the nonprofit field. While back at college, I have been increasingly involved with local nonprofits. More than anything, Up to Us has presented me with a set of experiences that have made me become more interested in economics as it relates to helping underserved communities.

This blog was written by Michael Stefanko, Up to Us Alumni