Students Present Well-Being Projects in Community Impact Challenge.

Photo by: Innovate@BU


Students Present Well-Being Projects in Community Impact Challenge

MPH students Devin O’Donnell and Michelle Li were named finalists in Innovate@BU’s inaugural competition featuring projects that foster community wellbeing.

December 21, 2020
Twitter Facebook

Two School of Public Health students were named finalists in Innovate@BU’s Community Impact Challenge, an inaugural, university-wide initiative that encouraged students to develop innovative ideas to promote well-being in their communities at BU and beyond.

First-year Master of Public Health students Devin O’Donnell and Michelle Li were recognized for their projects Leafed Environmental and Next Chapter: BU Book Club, respectively. Along with 14 other finalists, O’Donnell and Li presented a one-minute pitch of their projects during a virtual Finalists Showcase on November 20.

Launched in early October, the initiative and event were part of a collaboration among Innovate@BU, The Wellbeing Project, BU Student Government, and UMOJA: The Black Student Union to inspire students to embrace an entrepreneurial mindset and design projects that foster wellbeing and can make a positive difference within the BU community or beyond the university in their local communities. Individually or in teams, students could submit project ideas that embrace emotional, social, physical, environmental, intellectual, financial, and/or spiritual dimensions.

The 16 finalists were selected in mid-November and the students received a $500 seed grant to further develop their project.

Leafed Environmental, O’Donnell’s project, is a website that provides a roadmap to sustainable climate solutions at the individual level. The site, which O’Donnell is still developing, offers 20 evidence-based climate solutions that individuals can feasible adopt into their lifestyles. Divided into six categories—food, water, home, transportation, buying, and entertainment—the solutions vary in intensity, enabling people to implement behavior changes that best fit their daily routines and make the most positive impact on the climate.

Credit: Devin O’Donnell

When it comes to the climate crisis, “a lot of young people believe that it is too big of a problem to solve, or that individual actions won’t make a difference,” says O’Donnell, who is studying community assessment, program design, implementation, and evaluation (CAPDIE) at SPH. “For people who are forward-thinking and want to make a difference, but are overwhelmed or just don’t know what to do, I wanted to provide accessible ways for them to reduce their carbon footprint.”

For example, the food category shares information about sustainable food and composting, and how people can incorporate these options into their diet and daily regimen. “There are a lot of misconceptions about what sustainable food actually is,” O’Donnell says. “Not everyone has to be vegan, and organic items aren’t necessarily more sustainable than non-organic food.”

Li’s idea for the initiative arose after she rediscovered her passion for reading during the past several months of the pandemic. For her project, she plans to launch a virtual BU version of the nationwide Next Chapter Book Club program. Participants will read a selected book at their own pace every other month, and then will meet virtually to discuss the book and socialize with each other.

“Reading a book not only stimulates my mind but also teaches me more about myself and what my identity is,” says Li, who is studying healthcare management at SPH. “Finding the time to read a book gave my strained eyes a break from staring at a screen all day and put me in an intimate bubble with just my thoughts.”

Amid the many hardships resulting from the pandemic, “books will forever provide us with a sense of relief,” Li says. “Next Chapter will help strengthen our intellectual, emotional, and social well-being.”

Explore Related Topics:

  • Share this story
  • 0 Comments Add


Students Present Well-Being Projects in Community Impact Challenge

  • Jillian McKoy

    Senior Writer and Editor

    Jillian McKoy is the senior writer and editor at the School of Public Health. Profile

Comments & Discussion

Boston University moderates comments to facilitate an informed, substantive, civil conversation. Abusive, profane, self-promotional, misleading, incoherent or off-topic comments will be rejected. Moderators are staffed during regular business hours (EST) and can only accept comments written in English. Statistics or facts must include a citation or a link to the citation.

Post a comment.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *