Inaugural United Nations Millennium Fellows Poised to Tackle Global Challenges

Nine student leaders selected for their dedication to social-impact efforts

As a UN Millennium Fellow, Terri Nwanma '22 will work to create a mental health handbook for first-generation and low-income college students. She holds a necklace of coral beads representing her native Nigeria.
By News staffPhotography by Tristan Spinski
October 27, 2021

Colby is pleased to announce its inaugural cohort of United Nations Millennium Fellows. Nine student leaders, hailing from New Hampshire to Nigeria, have been selected to represent the College as part of the fellowship’s 2021 class. Colby is part of just 6 percent of the campuses from 30 nations to host this year’s fellows. 

Joining the ranks of more than 2,000 fellows from 136 campuses worldwide, these outstanding young Colbians comprise the first cohort from any Maine college or university: Misa Beltran-Guzman ’22, Kai Goode ’24, Sophya Guwn ’22, Cristian Hernandez ’23, Erica Lee ’24, Clara Lehv ’24, Terri Nwanma ’22, Furqan Qureshi ’24, and Linzy Rosen ’22. 

“Colby students have always been dedicated to social-impact efforts, demonstrated leadership qualities, and generated innovative ideas,” said Sarah ​​Sculley, DavisConnects advisor for education and social impact. “This opportunity is not only a perfect fit for Colby students but is well-deserved, and I’m thrilled for them to be recognized on this global scale.”

In 2018 the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) initiative and the global nonprofit Millennium Campus Network (MCN) launched the Millennium Fellowship. The selective fellowship is a semester-long leadership development program that convenes, challenges, and celebrates student leadership. Millennium Fellows have launched projects to impact their campus and communities and help to make the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals and its 10 Academic Impact Principles reality. 

The initiatives of Colby’s inaugural cohort are far-reaching. Tackling a variety of challenges in Maine and beyond, Colby fellows are pursuing projects from equity and inclusion in higher education to climate change to mental health to menstrual equity. 

For the 2021 class, more than 25,000 students applied from 2,000-plus campuses across 153 nations. To be selected, prospective fellows demonstrated strong leadership capabilities, a passion to advance UN goals, and proposed innovative projects to address a specific UN Sustainable Development Goal. 

In addition to being selected as fellows, MCN chose Beltran-Guzman and Guwn to serve as Colby’s campus directors. In this role, they will lead Colby fellows through a series of exclusive social-impact workshops and leadership-development opportunities designed by MCN. 

Furqan Qureshi '24, UN Millennium Fellow.
Furqan Qureshi ’24
Qureshi’s project is to create criteria to expand telehealth psychological services to address a gap in access to psychological services between urban and rural populations. “These are my friends back home,” Qureshi says of the photo he’s holding. “A lot of people, when they go to college, they lose their friends back home and make new ones. But I know these are the friends I’ll keep for life. Even though I might not be able to talk to them every day, or every week, or every month, I know that they will always support me.”
Kai Goode '24, UN Millennium Fellow.
Kai Goode’24
Goode’s project involves building a website that improves environmental literacy in the state of Maine. The bracelet she wears is from her mom, who is not currently in her life but remains a constant inspiration. The photo she holds is of her grandmother, who has always been there for her. “She’s a strong independent woman who raised me and helped me become the person I am today.”
Sophya Guwn '22, UN Millennium Fellow.
Sophya Guwn ’22
Guwn’s project focuses on methane suppression in dairy cattle through adding trace amounts of seaweed to cattle feed to reduce the carbon footprint of the dairy and meat industry.
Misael Beltran-Guzman, '22, UN Millennium Fellow.
Misael Beltran-Guzman ’22
Beltran-Guzman will use his fellowship to find ways to take the lessons he’s learned working with Colby’s first-generation/low-income students to a more broad, institutional level that can be applied beyond Colby’s campus. The necklace was a gift from his volunteer service in Guatemala City during high school. He returned after graduating to lead other high school volunteers. “Guatemala City itself, and that experience working with that community, has a special place in my heart. I wear the necklace now wherever I go.”
Linzy Rosen '22, UN Millennium Fellow.
Linzy Rosen ’22
Rosen’s project—mapping menstrual equity—involves doing an audit of shelters, clinics, community centers, and other places where people can access period products. She will also examine the capacity of Maine facilities to provide for menstrual-insecure individuals. “To increase period product accessibility, we need data. We need to better quantify this widely ignored, stigmatized issue.”
Erica Lee '24, UN Millennium Fellow.
Erica Lee ’24
Lee’s project involves building a website that improves environmental literacy in the state of Maine. Her camera is “a way to help me to look at things from a different perspective and gives me the opportunity to communicate to the public.”
Clara Lehv '24, UN Millennium Fellow.
Clara Lehv ’24
Lehv’s project is to create a safe space on campus for people with invisible disabilities. “As someone who suffered a life-threatening illness, I feel like it would be helpful for people going through the same thing to have people to talk to.” Lehv says of the necklace she holds: “My mom gave it to me when I was in the hospital. I was in a coma for three weeks during Christmas. It was a Christmas gift.”
As a UN Millennium Fellow, Terri Nwanma '22 will work to create a mental health handbook for first-generation and low-income college students. She holds a necklace of coral beads representing her native Nigeria.
Terri Nwanma ’22
Nwanma will work to create a mental health handbook for first-generation and low-income college students to make sure there is a resource with guidance backed up by psychological research. The necklace she holds represents her native Nigeria. It’s a replication of the coral beads that people wear as part of the traditional attire of the Igbo community, her tribe in Nigeria. “Home for me has always been a big inspiration for all the things I’ve done. Having some physical reminders of home is a good way to stay grounded.”
Christian Hernandez '23, UN Millennium Fellow.
Christian Hernandez ’23
Hernandez’s project involves compiling a poetry collection and describing the sufferings of marginalized and less-fortunate communities in the climate crisis, which are disproportionately impacted by climate change. He holds a collection of poems that spans the Romantic Period. “I can take a lot of inspiration from it as there’s eco-critical stuff in there, too, from some of the poets.”

Rosen spearheaded the effort to bring the fellowship to Mayflower Hill. Last spring, she helped build Colby’s applicant pool by reaching out to various campus clubs, organizations, and individuals, including Sculley, who helped disseminate the fellowship’s information and supported applicants.

“I’m so proud of the Colby community for coming together and forming this cohort,” Rosen said. “This will be an exciting opportunity to support each other and address pressing issues that exist on and off campus.”

According to the fellowship, the work of the 2020 Millennium Fellows positively impacted the lives of more than 875,827 people. Seventy-five percent of program alumni are now pursuing social impact careers. 

“On every campus and in every community, student leaders are committed to making positive contributions while committed to our ethos: empathetic, humble, inclusive leadership,” said Sam Vaghar, executive director and cofounder of MCN. “Emerging leaders need requisite training, connections, and recognition to deepen their social impact as undergraduates and throughout their careers. Partnering with UNAI enables us to engage more students, providing a powerful framework to help them convene, take action, and elevate the important contributions they make.”