It wasn’t a phone call or email that let Daniel Sopdie know about the recognition he was receiving.
Instead it was a post on his Facebook wall from his friend and co-worker Linda Nkosi.
“I was excited, but at the same time I know it’s not just me. It’s group work,” Sopdie said.
Sopdie was named one of the “Five Black Students to Watch in 2014” by the Clinton Foundation.
According to the Clinton Global Initiative page the students on this list are “change-makers poised to impact urgent issues in the Unites States and around the world.”
“I was proud for myself and for him because it is something we have been working on for a long time and I know he has put a lot of hard work into it,” Nkosi said.
Nkosi said he found the news after looking on the Clinton Foundation website one day.
He noticed Sopdie was mentioned and wanted to share the news with his friend and coworker, Nkosi said.
Sopdie along with Nkosi, Aseya Kakar and adviser Dr. Timothy Ewest, assistant professor for business administration, received a grant from the Clinton Foundation last summer to be applied to their project on creating biogas digesters at a Malindza refugee camp in the Lulumbo district of Swaziland.
Some refugees at the camp are taught how to run the biogas digester as well as how to maintain the bio-latrine, according to the Resolution Project.
Even though Sopdie is the one being recognized he said he sees it as a group accomplishment.
“They [others on campus] congratulated me. It was nice that they congratulated me but I tell them it was a group project,” Sopdie said.
“We are very happy for people to get individual recognition because of the hard work they put in individually,” Nkosi said. “But as a group we also accept that recognition because we know without each other we wouldn’t have come this far.”
There is some added pressure on the group due to the recognition their project is getting from Sopdie being a part of this list, Sopdie said.
However, the recognition also means more people will find out about their biogas digester projects, Sopdie and Nkosi said.
“We excepted to face a lot of challenges. We also knew we were going to have to prove that we could do it, could actually get some credibility,” Sopdie said. “It’s getting the word out. We can get support from other people.”
Sopdie and Nkosi also attended the Clinton Global Initiative University at which Sopdie spoke.
This is the third year Sopdie has attended and the second year Nkosi attended.
Attending this conference allowed Sopdie and Nkosi to build on the networks and relationships created in past years, Nkosi said.
“I was a little nervous but when I started speaking I was just speaking about my experience, what we have done as a group and it was easy to actually talk about what we have done,” Sopdie said. “I was just sharing my experience.”
Last summer, they were able to see the beginning stages of the implementation of their biogas digester at the refugee camp.
Nkosi said it is an amazing feeling knowing that they are able to help others.
“They live in very poor conditions so I wanted to do something that would help them and their everyday living,” Sopdie said. “Just doing that made me happy and that’s what motivates me to do it.”
The team has plans to expand their project within southern Africa.
“I’m proud of the work we have done as a group. I think we can really go far with all the support we have had from the college and our mentors after winning last year,” Nkosi said.