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Author and Global Humanitarian Delivers Keynote Address for Caltech Y

Global humanitarian and author Jane Olson shared her life and thoughts on finding hope in the world’s sorrowful places with the Friends of the Caltech Y on May 23rd at the Athenaeum. These special evenings allow Caltech Y donors to learn from world-renowned speakers on a variety of topics and build relationships with current Caltech students.


“The Y has five pillars – leadership, service, civic engagement, adventure, and perspective,” said Sarah Barrett, Student Executive Committee Member at Large. “I believe that Jane Olson perfectly embodies all of these characteristics, and I’m honored to have her at our dinner.”


From left to right: Cindy Bengtson, Susan Murakami, Katie Clark, Nate Thomas, Jane Olson


During the evening, Olson described her humanitarian trips around the world, weaving stories of people she met with her personal reflections. Olson’s recently published book World Citizen, Journeys of a Humanitarian reveals the profound ways she found hope and community in some of the most devastated, war-torn areas in the world.

“Events like this one, and the many other Caltech Y events we have are near and dear to my heart because they offer something almost no one else on campus does. [These programs] expand the horizons of what it means to attend Caltech.”

Albert Kyi, ExComm President


In her talk, Olson acknowledged the power one person’s story can have to ignite change and encouraged the audience to get to know people and their stories, starting with people around them, as a way to make meaningful change.

Olson’s inspiration comes from the next generation. “I wrote my book for this generation of college students” Olson said. “They are already well on their way to being world citizens. I am inspired by their passion and the ways in which they are already such a part of the global community.”

Student Executive Committee President, Albert Kyi, is a perfect example. For him, this talk illustrates the importance of being an engaged citizen, something Kyi has strived to do throughout his time at Caltech. “Events like this one, and the many other Caltech Y events we have are near and dear to my heart because they offer something almost no one else on campus does. [These programs] expand the horizons of what it means to attend Caltech,” said Kyi. “They gave both meaning and purpose to my time here.”



The Caltech Y provides students the opportunity to participate in local, national, international trips and community service to learn about different issues and how they can make a difference. Examples include the DC Science Policy Trip to dialogue with elected officials and policymakers, a Hawai’i spring break trip focused on sustainability, and the global policy trip to Switzerland. In addition, there are opportunities to serve close to home with the programs such as the Rise tutoring program for middle and high school students struggling with math or science, a one-day service program for students to volunteer at local non-profits and making monthly dinners for Union Station Homeless Services. Outdoor adventures provide students a chance to reduce stress, physically exercise and get immersed in nature through California. And students learn from notable speakers through the Student Activism Speaker Series. Students are empowered to make change in their own lives as well as the lives of others through a unique series of financial grants given to students each year to explore, engage, learn and serve around the world. These programs give Caltech students the basic training and exposure to grow into an engaged world citizen and leader.


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