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Chelsea Clinton is the last speaker at SXSW Interactive


Chelsea Clinton is the last speaker at SXSW Interactive

Eric Knowlson March 11, 2014

Chelsea Clinton has definitely lived an interesting and fulfilling life. When you examine her accomplishments it’s not surprising South by Southwest chose her to be the final keynote speaker for their interactive series.  The interactive series is one of three parts that make up SXSW, the other two being music and film. SXSW Interactive focuses on innovation, inspiration and creativity especially in the fields of technology and ideas. One of the themes this year is “social good.” Seeing that Chelsea Clinton has worked her whole life for social change she certainly seems qualified for the last keynote speaker slot on Tuesday, March 11 at 2:00 pm.  The last slot is meant to help solidify all the knowledge and creativity you’ve just harnessed and show you how to put it to use in the world outside the festival. Chelsea plans to take it a step further and is going to share insights on how you can transform the world in order to make it a better place.

There is a lot of talk buzzing on the Internet; people are disappointed Chelsea Clinton was chosen for this slot. People are basically saying, “she doesn’t have anything to do with technology” and “she only got this slot because her father was president. She has been handed everything in her life. Why should we listen to her?” I think I can answer this question best with a famous quote by Chelsea herself, “Life is not about what happens to you, but what you do with what happens to you.” Yes Chelsea was born into a prominent family and was wealthy growing up but if you look at other rich or presidential children it is clear a good lot of them haven’t accomplished nearly as much as she has. Many are content to bask in their families’ wealth and power forever and not accomplish much else in their lives. But Chelsea has a drive and ambition that isn’t paralleled in other presidential children, let alone most people. The secret service even nicknamed her “energy”. Chelsea was not going to take the lazy route in life; she took what life handed her and used it to her advantage. She not only helps herself but helps the world around her. This transformation from privileged president’s daughter to multiple degree holding, brainiac and champion for social good is a lesson we could all take something away from.

Chelsea Victoria Clinton was born February 27, 1980 in Little Rock, Arkansas to the prominent Clinton family. She attended public school and had a normal childhood until her father was elected president in 1993. At the beginning of his term the media often joked about her awkward pre-teen appearance. This was a lot for young Chelsea to bear and as a result her mother and father eventually declared her off-limits to the media. For quite some time she stayed out of the public eye while attending high school.

After graduating high school she went to Stanford to receive a B.A. in history. Besides the regular stresses of college, during her sophomore year, she had to deal with the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Still she managed to graduate with highest honors. Next she decided to study over seas at Oxford University. September 11th happened while she was overseas; she was subject to some anti-American sentiments from her fellow students. Again she still managed to graduate with ease in 2003 with a Masters of Philosophy in International Relations.

After graduation she worked at the consulting firm McKinsey & Company in New York City. She was the youngest person in her class to be hired. Later she was hired by the hedge fund Avenue Capital Group.

In November 2009 investment banker Marc Mezvinsky proposed to her during the Thanksgiving weekend. Marc is also a former Stanford student. The couple was married July 31, 2010. During this time she was attending Columbia University for her second masters degree. She graduated in the midst of wedding plans during the spring of 2010 with a Masters of Public Health. Soon after Chelsea was hired as a special correspondent for NBC. The focus of her stories was “Making a Difference.” In 2012 she began teaching at Columbia University. She also received an award from the Temple of Understanding for “work in advancing a new model of interfaith and cross-cultural education into campus life.”

In addition to all her schooling Chelsea is the Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation. The Clinton Foundation was started by her father in an attempt to “Build partnerships with great purpose among governments, businesses, NGOs, and individuals everywhere to strengthen health systems in developing countries, fight climate change, expand economic opportunity in Africa, Latin America and the United States, and help Americans live healthier lives.” Chelsea having a Masters in Public Health mainly focuses on the health programs in the Clinton Foundation.  Some of the Programs she specifically works with are the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Clinton Health Matters Initiative, Clinton Day of Action Foundation, Clinton Global Initiative University and the Clinton Foundation: Millennium Network.

The Clinton Health Access Initiative serves to help strengthen health systems in the developing world and expand HIV/AIDS treatments. They claim, “as a result of our work, more than 6.8 million people in the developing world have access to low-cost, high-quality HIV and AIDS treatment, including more than 647,000 children.” The Clinton Health Maters Initiative works to improve the health and well being of people in the United States with a focus on childhood obesity. The Clinton Day of Action Foundation is a program to help organize and recruit volunteers for service work and disaster relief. It united more than a thousand volunteers to help victims of Hurricane Sandy.  The Clinton Global Initiative University hosts parties or meetings where students, youth organizations and celebrities come together to discuss and create solutions for pressing global challenges. This year the Clinton Global Initiative University will be held at Arizona State University from March 21-23, 2014.  The Clinton Foundation Millennium Network is an organization that hosts fundraising parties meant to attract the millennium generation to help them get involved with social change. Each party has a musical guest and draws more than a thousand attendees.

At SXSW this year Chelsea Clinton will likely talk about the work she has done with her foundations and discuss many other great ideas on how to encourage social change. I couldn’t think of a better speaker, who has accomplished more, to wrap up this year’s SXSW Festival.

Eric Knowlson

Eric is a lover of the written word, the world around him and new experiences. He studied creative writing at the University of New Mexico.

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