#BRIGHT
Conner Hazelrigg

July 18, 2017

Written by Miles Ramsay | Photos by Alysa Ramsay

CHARACTER TRAIT: Bright

DEFINITION: Full of hope and promise; intelligent.

Every night before you go to bed, you plug your phone in to charge it. In some parts of the world, that’s a luxury they can’t afford. With a little help from Sunshine Electronic Display of St. Joseph, Conner Hazelrigg’s brilliant idea is making those parts of the world a little more connected.

As a young mother trudges down the hot, dusty road that connects her compound to its only water source, a nearby well that pumps out unclean water, beads of sweat begin to form on her forehead. She struggles with a large, yellow plastic container. The uneven weight causes the worn down flip-flop on her right foot to sink a bit deeper into the dirt than her left.

This daily ritual is commonplace in many remote Haitian villages. But on the day that Conner Hazelrigg arrived in one such village, the hardships and struggles of daily life were temporarily forgotten as she produced a small magic box capable of capturing images.

Conner describes her first interaction with the locals as an eye-opening experience for both parties.

“We were the first white people they had ever seen. And we all had our iPhones, which also blew their minds. They were completely in love with the idea of selfies.”

The reason for Conner’s trip goes well beyond expanding horizons. She traveled to deliver her Sunshine Box, a product made possible through her internship at Sunshine Electronic Display in St. Joseph, Missouri.

When a friend returned from a visit to Haiti in 2013, he told Conner everyone has cell phones, but no one has electricity. Her friend’s information wasn’t exaggerated – 80 percent of Haitians own mobile phones yet only 12 percent have access to electricity. Conner decided to take action and approached Sunshine Electronic Display CEO Kendall Randolph.

“I took him my idea of what the Sunshine Box could be. Kendall asked me to come up with the schematics. He immediately had me set up with different people in the manufacturing process… acquiring parts, welding, bending the metal, making sure the computer aided design of it was in place.”

So what exactly is this Sunshine Box and what does it do? Harnessing the solar energy of the sun, the Sunshine Box is able to charge 10 cell phones simultaneously. It sure supersedes the alternative charging methods many Haitians are accustomed to, which includes hooking phones up to car batteries, illegal tap offs, and various other sketchy techniques.

Conner says her ambition coupled with her love of physics is a bi-product of being pushed by two very special people – her dad and one of her teachers at St. Joseph’s Bishop LeBlond High School, Lisa Alkier.

“She just kept pushing me to keep doing more outside of class.”

What started off as a meager three boxes has grown into 20 units that are now in 11 countries spanning four continents, with the most recent Sunshine Boxes going to Thailand, Peru, and Uganda.

Conner hopes to see her boxes in half the countries of the world in the next 10 years. Focused on her goal, she is currently pursuing her MBA in order to better administrate the business side of Sunshine Boxes.

Conner’s drive and problem-solving initiative are true testaments to what can grow from planting the seeds of curiosity and adding a little sunshine.

#BRIGHT

Full of hope and promise; intelligent.

#IRON-WILLED

A burning determination that cannot be stopped or hindered by anything; Extremely resilient.

#COMMITTED

Loyal and willing to give your time and energy to something that you believe in.

#LUCKY

Having unexpected good fortune; favorable; believed to bring good luck.

#ARTIFACTUAL

Something made by human hands that has some archaeological or historical significance.