Considering former President Bill Clinton mentioned her name at his Global Initiative conference in September, Duke sophomore Christine Schindler is practically a celebrity. For those of you who don’t know her (though she’s probably already said hi to you), you are limiting your chances of knowing the next world-changer.
Christine, majoring in Biomedical Engineering, founded Girls Engineering Change on campus at the start of this year. She brought middle school girls to an engineering lab at Duke, pairing them with her engineering friends in order to inspire them to get involved in the engineering field. Within a month, Clinton addressed the organization in his opening address on Global Initiative at George Washington University. Now, UC Davis is starting a branch of the program. And soon, Christine will make efforts to make Girls Engineering Change a global program by working with the Engineering World Health team in Pakistan. Did you catch all that?
Let’s just say Christine is a go-getter. She’s only a sophomore and she’s got grand plans! Admitting herself that she did not understand engineering before she got to college, she’s made it her goal to inspire younger girls to become engineers.
“You need both genders working as engineers in order to solve the world’s problems,” she said.
So how did she go about starting this organization that has now been recognized by Bill Clinton? As a freshman, Christine got involved with Duke’s Engineering World Health team (she’s now the Vice President), in which she assembled low-cost medical devices that would be sent to third-world countries. She realized that her efforts could be of even more impact if she got more people involved, and being the proactive woman that she is, got to work.
She came up with the idea of Girls Engineering Change, spent the whole summer setting it up, and later, submitted the idea to the Clinton Global Initiative University Program where it captured the attention of the former president and gathered further support. Like I said, she’s practically a celebrity.
While I spoke to Christine, her celebrity status became even more apparent. She seemed to know at least half of the people that walked in Au Bon Pain, and as a freshman, I was in awe. “How do you know so many people?” I asked her.
“I just know people that go to ABP,” she said.
She’s there all the time sippin’ on her favorite: the peach-flavored iced tea. So if you want your chance at meeting her and catching her positive vibe, you know where to find her. But Christine was just being modest in her answer. She probably knows all of these people because of her outgoing personality and involvement with multiple organizations at Duke. She is on the executive team for Duke Partnership for Service, is the Vice President for Engineering World Health, and is a part of Alpha Phi and the Ubuntu social living group. It’s no wonder she knows so many people!
But back to her story on Girls Engineering Change. Christine’s first success was bringing six middle school girls to an engineering lab at Duke, where they could experience first-hand what having an engineering career would entail.
“The younger girls’ faces lit up when they used a soldering iron for the first time, and seeing that made me happy,” Christine said.
Because of Christine, these middle school girls have the chance to use resources they wouldn’t otherwise know about. Even I didn’t know what a soldering iron was! Younger girls are now able to have first-hand experiences in the engineering labs at Duke, and as a result, Christine is taking action in broadening the engineering field to include more females. She’s changing the world one step at a time.