Hacking difficult conversations

Photo by Lorenzo Ciniglio
Photo by Lorenzo Ciniglio
Photo by Lorenzo Ciniglio
Photo by Lorenzo Ciniglio
Photo by Lorenzo Ciniglio
Photo by Lorenzo Ciniglio
Photo by Lorenzo Ciniglio

 

On the bright Saturday morning of March 11, approximately 25 Colgate students and alumni came together in New York City for a common purpose. The goal was to provide support for a student venture, UNRAVEL. Gathered in the spacious, loft-like office of First Look Media, the group utilized their varied backgrounds to propel forward the student project, through a full-day hackathon.

UNRAVEL, co-founded by Jehdeiah Mixon ’18 and Hannah Shaheen O’Malley ’17, creates toolkits that unpack complicated issues for children to work through with adults. Their pilot package addressed consent by using everyday actions — such as friends making a pizza or playing soccer — to draw comparisons about coercing others into activities they don’t want to do.

“I learned a lot of things in college that I knew and experienced at a younger age but did not have the language to express and skills to address,” O’Malley explained. She and Mixon decided that they wanted to create educational children’s books to give children a way to talk about issues like sex, race, gender, death, and privilege.

The duo launched their pilot project last spring, and in less than two weeks, they sold all 120 units, which included a storybook, coloring book, and pamphlet for adults. The toolkits were sold at the Colgate Bookstore, Hamilton Center for the Arts, and online.

“This year, we hope to take our venture to new heights with a crowd-funding campaign and increased marketing efforts,” Mixon said.

To help them with those objectives, alumni and students broke into small groups at the Hackathon to: write copy for their Kickstarter page, integrate Google analytics and search engine optimization, create social media pages and e-mail campaign templates, and develop a promotional video concept. Alumni came from backgrounds including consulting, entrepreneurship, software engineering, and education.

“The spirit of today is to be collaborative: to learn, to teach, to share, and to build stuff,” said Jeff O’Connell ’94, one of the organizers of the annual event. “There are a lot of Colgate alumni who are doers. They have hard skills and we wanted to utilize that.”

UNRAVEL is part of Colgate’s Thought into Action (TIA) entrepreneurship program, facilitated with the help of alumni mentors. TIA has 150 mentors at large, and approximately 25 come back to campus each month to work with students. Are you interested in being involved? Visit colgate.edu/entrepreneurship.

The hackathon was powered by the Digital Business and Technology, Common Good, and Entrepreneur professional networks. Colgate Professional Networks bring together students and alumni to help with professional development.

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