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How volunteering as a student at UWA sparked Michael’s passion for social justice and ignited the Global Citizen phenomenon

24/05/2024 |

Meet Michael Sheldrick, a UWA Arts and Law graduate and the co-founder of Global Citizen, one of the largest platforms taking action to end extreme poverty in the world. When Michael first started at UWA, he was uncertain of how his choice to study Law and Arts would help him create meaningful change and lead him to a career that he was passionate about.  

Today, Michael is the co-founder of Global Citizen, an organisation with over 12 million members globally and is the author of  Ideas to Impact: A Playbook for Influencing and Implementing Change in a Divided World (Wiley: 2024)In the past decade, his organisation has raised over $40 billion to improve the lives of more than 1 billion people through partnering with world leaders, corporate leaders, and philanthropists to act on the critical issues of poverty, climate change, and inequality. Michael now lives in New York City and has a team of 20 to 30 professionals from around the world advocating to end global poverty.  

While studying at UWA, Michael was encouraged by his lecturers to seek volunteer and learning opportunities outside of his studies to expand his worldview and gain insight into real-world problems and social issues. He discovered his passion for policy entrepreneurship while volunteering at university, where he raised funds to help build schools in Papua-New Guinea and Timor-Leste, providing students in need with access to an education and was actively encouraged by his lecturers to utilise resources at UWA to continue his advocacy. Through the support of the university, they provided him with a space to bring students together and access to networks with valuable advice while starting Global Citizen.  

Michael tells us that while he was completing his studies he didn’t know that the job he would end up in even existed at the time. He turned to his lecturers for advice and shared ideas of his dream vocation which helped him realise that what he enjoyed and felt passionate about was advocating for social change. His lecturer at the time then introduced him to the career of policy entrepreneurship and encouraged him to seek a career in social advocacy with Global Citizen.  

Michael, UWA Bachelor of arts and law Graduate 

Here is Michael’s advice to students on his experience volunteering.

Volunteering and participating in internships is one of the best ways to get out there, apply what you’re learning at university in a practical sense, and find out how you can contribute to the world.I would encourage all students, if they have an opportunity to volunteer or participate in an internship to grab it with both arms.

Michael, UWA Bachelor of Arts and Law graduate

Since graduating from UWA, Michael has partnered with the McCusker Centre for Citizenship and has since hosted several students from UWA at the Global Citizen offices in New York. 

Michael says that “the McCusker Centre is equipping students with skills on how to collaborate, how to work together and it's a recognition that no matter where we work, there is something we can all do to contribute towards a positive impact and to improving people's lives around the world.
I hope that other universities will look at the McCusker Centre as a role model of best practice when it comes to embedding social impact into the student experience.”

Founded in 2016, the McCusker Centre for Citizenship seeks to foster caring, connected, and socially engaged citizens who actively contribute to the wellbeing of their communities. The center pairs socially engaged students with organisations such as Global Citizen and provides students with the opportunity to test what they have learned at UWA and apply their practical skills in real-world contexts. More than 3,200 students have now undertaken internships through the Centre, and 97 percent say they would recommend the internship program.

Are your ready to go beyond your studies to seek change in your world? 

Find out more about internships with the McCusker Centre for Citizenship at UWA and apply what you have learnt by working with local organisations and your community.  

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