If I remember correctly, I participated in The Commons back in Fall 2015 (Sept through Nov). Apparently, a lot has changed since then and I was able to witness the change this past weekend at the Spring 2017 Kickoff. When I type out change, I mean change in the sense that all positive improvements were made that induced jealously. Jealousy set aside, I am glad that The Commons has made the change in which the students of the program will learn what I learned in a different approach.
Day 1 - February 11, 2017 - Saturday, 1:30-4pm
After I have decided to reconnect with connections, I knew I had to reconnect with the program that started it all for me and has gifted me the spark to succeed outside of school: The Commons.
Day 1 of Kickoff started at 9am but for me it started at 1:30pm (I needed to do Senior Design things). When I arrived at Ward4 during this time, lunch break was over and all students were gathered in the huddle room to listen to Joe share his Commons wisdom. I immediately saw some familiar faces upon my arrival (Kohl's guy Jonah, and the rest of The Commons staff - Maggie and Michael). Other than these familiar faces, the majority of the students and other involved persons were new potential connections to me.
As a non-participant of The Commons, Day 1 of Kickoff was eye opening to me and I was able to gauge a sense of curiosity, willingness to learn, and local talent from the group of students of the Spring 2017 cohort. I was glad to learn that there were MSOE students in attendance and I was even more amazed to learn that most of the MSOE students were freshman (i.e. such as this student I referred)! These freshman will no doubt become an essential part of the Milwaukee community with help from their experience and new network in The Commons. Other students I met this day had curiosity in their eyes and the drive to take advantage of what The Commons has to offer. Also, I have got to give it up to the alumni volunteers, Katrina and DJ who helped manage traffic control and other items during the Kickoff! I left Day 1 of Kickoff with a heart full of hope and appreciation for The Commons and the students of the Spring 2017 cohort.
Day 2 - February 12, 2017 - Sunday, 9:30-3pm
Day 2 of Kickoff allowed me to experience more of what the students will be going through in the Spring 2017 version of The Commons program. This day, I was also able to meet even more students and startup challenge leaders. From a fellow Asian who goes to Marquette and migrated from Malaysia, a student of devCodeCamp who wanted more technical experience after his UWM education (another Asian as well!), a charismatic woman going through The Commons for a second round of experience, to startup challengers from businesses in the community (i.e. Church Liberty Mutual and Briggs & Stratton)! All of them seemed to embody the spirit of The Commons and the mission to foster innovation through collaboration. The part of this day that I was excited about was the reveal of the Challenges for Spring 2017 (corporate and student led). I've got to say, which I should not be surprised at this point, all of these challenges were unique and had their own flare that set themselves apart from Fall 2015. Sadly, I was not able to stay the full day and left an hour before Kickoff officially ended for Spring 2017.
To all the students, I wish you are able to find a new family with The Commons. Learn from each other, learn from your mentors, learn from your coaches, and learn from The Commons. To all the challenge leaders, please keep a watchful eye on your students. Be the glue that keeps your team together and also learn from what they have to offer. To The Commons, keep doing what you do and continue to innovate the program even more through collaboration and inspire us all!
To Collaborative Innovation,