Congrats, Devin Valencia! She was just named the "College Affordability Challenge" winner for creating "Connect Fund," a Facebook app that will help students find more money for school. Devin will receive $10,000 and the opportunity to fully develop her digital tool with a budget of $100,000.
Act caught up with Devin today after she returned from the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) meeting in San Diego, where she was named the challenge winner by President Bill Clinton, himself.
What was your experience like at CGI U?
My experience at CGI U was nothing short of amazing! Meeting the president was such a surreal experience and a historical moment in my life. I learned so much and felt inspired throughout the entire conference. Being in a room full of innovators puts your creative thinking in overdrive. The people I encountered are our generation's future global impactors. I already want to go back next year to connect with young leaders and make more positive changes in the world!
What was your favorite part of the weekend?
The entire weekend was my favorite part! Every session, every day and every person I met has made a positive impact in my life.
How do you plan to spend the 10K prize?
Putting 10k in any young adult's hands could be dangerous, but I will choose to spend the money wisely. I will use it to pay off my student loan and plan on putting the rest of it into savings.
What have you learned from this experience?
I have learned that young people do have a voice and that we are able to make changes in the world. Making any positive changes, whether small or big, can have such a huge impact and leads to more change. This experience has been life changing and one I will remember forever!
What advice do you have for other young innovators trying to get their ideas off of the ground?
My best advice for other young innovators is to just believe in yourself and to not let anyone tell you you can't. Being young, we feel as though there are many barriers to get past in order to accomplish something. So take time to understand these hurdles. By understanding these barriers, you'll have a better shot at overcoming them and letting yourself be seen and heard. Don't stop until you've reached your maximum potential!
What's next for you? Any new endeavors on the horizon?
I feel as though so many new doors have opened and I have the opportunity to continue contributing. CGI U has given me so many new ideas that I want to pursue and share with the world. Hopefully this will not be the last time you hear from me!
You can learn more about Devin and "Connect Fund" on GetSchooled.MTV.com.