Poverty becomes student’s priority

2010-02-15T23:13:00Z Poverty becomes student’s priorityMSUB News Service The Billings Gazette
February 15, 2010 11:13 pm  • 

Kristen Horton is a busy person.

She’s a student who wants to be a nurse, who also wants to be a missionary who also wants to make her fellow students more aware of the plight of millions of people around the world.

And it’s all while serving as the campus point person for an international advocacy organization.

Horton says she is up to the challenge.

In fact, she hopes that other students at Montana State University Billings are ready to confront some important global issues.

Through a new grass-roots organization called ONE, Horton is calling on her friends, classmates and just about anyone who will listen to raise awareness of extreme poverty and preventable diseases in the poorest places on the planet, especially Africa.

“I just saw this as a way I could help,” said Horton, a West High graduate and an MSU Billings freshman doing pre-nursing studies. “It was something I could do.”

Horton became passionate about missionary work this past summer when she made a trip with friends to Ethiopia.

She was entrusted with the care and education of 25 orphans during the mission, and the level of suffering stuck with her.

When she started classes at MSU Billings last fall, she said she wanted to do more, especially at the university.

“Now that I’ve been there, I made up my mind that I needed to help others understand that there’s something going on in Africa that needs to be addressed,” she said.

Through contacts with friends and Internet research, she found out about ONE. The organization is backed by more than 2 million people who are committed to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease.

Co-founded by Bono from the rock band U2 and other campaigners, ONE is nonpartisan and works closely with African policymakers and activists.

A major part of the ONE endeavor is the Campus Challenge. Tapping into the natural competitive spirit that runs through the hallways of every college campus, the challenge provides a way to raise awareness in the fight against extreme poverty and disease while also training the next generation of advocates.

The ONE Campus Challenge provides college and university students with different actions to mobilize and educate their peers. Once a challenge or action has been completed, a campus can score points.

“Getting points helps to motivate students to get involved,” Horton said.

But the real motivation, she said, is joining with others to make a difference for the future.

It’s not lost on her that more than 1 billion people around the world are living on less than $1.25 a day, about half the amount of money many of her college colleagues spend on a latte every day. And many of those same people fight AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases.

“I’m sure that if more people knew about the AIDS crisis and poverty, they’d be willing to help,” she said.

So far, that bet is paying off.

Through her continual and passionate one-on-one efforts with friends, classmates and others, she has organized a new student group at MSU Billings tied to the ONE effort and is spreading the word through petitions and information.

“It’s busy,” she said. “I feel like I need to work on something at least once a week.”

And her networking is starting to take off.

Recently, Horton took part in the Power 100 Summit anti-poverty gathering in Washington, D.C.

One hundred college students from across the United States were chosen to participate in the weekend leadership summit sponsored by ONE.

Students shared information and devised new strategies on engaging fellow students to be advocates on poverty issues. They also heard from well-known speakers, policy experts and activists. Speakers included Robert Draper, contributor to The New York Times and National Geographic; filmmaker Chai Vasarhelyi (“I Bring What I Love”); Mark Green, managing policy director of Malaria No More; and the Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World.

“It was an amazing experience,” she said.

“I also had a Lobby Day where I asked Montana Sen. Max Baucus to fund programs proven to reduce extreme poverty, improve global health and ensure access to food for millions of people.”

Find out more

For information about the ONE challenge at Montana State University Billings, contact Kristen Horton at kristenjhorton@gmail.com.

The link to the MSU Billings campus challenge site can be found at www.one.org/campus and by selecting Montana State University Billings in the menu.

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