“There’s nothing extraordinary about me,” says extraordinary youth leader

This is a guest post by Adarsha Shivakumar. Adarsha is a sophomore at Stanford University, co-Founder of Project Jatropha, and Brower Youth Award winner, among many other accomplishments. Read about other students and alums showing their love for ACE this Earth Week.

adarsha2 (2)My name is Adarsha Shivakumar and not only am I an ACE Alum, but I love ACE -- the staff, the students, and the potential for this organization to go places.

Last week, I spoke at the Pathways to 100% Renewables Conference in San Francisco. There was so much that I wanted to say to the audience, an international crowd of energy experts, entrepreneurs, financiers, and government officials. Mostly, I wanted to show people how my generation contributes to our shared goal of a better future. We may not have power or resources, but we have drive, networks, and a rebellious will to create something from nothing. To me, these assets shouldn’t be taken for granted, and working together is the only way to win.


My ACE story isn't one of great drama or action. It's actually quite simple. I knew I was already interested in environmentalism, but ACE took me by surprise. I expected the same old "global warming is bad we need to fix it" PowerPoint presentation, but ACE's delivery shocked and impressed me. That day, I knew I wanted to be part of an organization that was so... “revolutionary” was the only word I could think of.

And somehow, my crazy energy and enthusiasm intrigued ACE enough that I became a part of the team. I then joined the Youth Advisory Board which led me to speak at major conferences and made me infinitely more motivated to continue fighting for a better, more sustainable world.

To this day, I still don't really know how or why I managed to become an ACE leader. But that, you see, is the magic: there's nothing truly extraordinary about me. My story could just as easily be yours. You don't need to be a superstar or anything of the sort to have the chance to do great things. All you need to do is be yourself. And thus, be amazing.

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So this week, I want to join my peers in sharing our ACE success stories and ask you to show your support. Donate to ACE today. I promise, it’s the best decision you’ll make.

Thank you for making all this possible.

Transcript of Adarsha's speech:

Presented at the Pathways to 100% Renewable Energy Conference on April 16, 2013. The conference convened an international audience of energy experts, financiers, public officials, and thought leaders to discuss how to bring the renewable energy future to all.

“Too often when the environment is being discussed I hear conversation that the current generation is lazy or unmotivated or ignorant about the problems facing the world today. That even if we were sufficiently motivated and educated, that we are too inexperienced, that we are naive about the true nature of the world, and because of those reasons we cannot enact change until we are adults: but I know those people are wrong. I have seen youth achieve great things because their courage and drive were infinite and because they were too inexperienced to know that their goal was what adults call impossible. But I am not speaking here to defend or laud my peers, and I don't need to do so either: our accomplishments and drive speak for themselves. I am speaking to remind you all of the duty you have to continue fighting.

The youth do not yet have the power to enact change on the levels that you do. We have the drive, but not the tools. We don’t have the privilege of power that you have. But we all have a certain privilege that we must act on.

Many of us in this venue today live relatively good lives: financially comfortable, loved ones in decent health, and so on. But others-even in America, let alone the rest of the world-are not so fortunate. Those are the people we fight for. Those are the people who are just as deserving of a better future as any of us, or our descendents. Remember that all of us owe society for enabling us to get to the positions we currently occupy. Imagine if any of us had been born in, say, rural Bangladesh. Or Somalia. Despite our talents, and no matter how much we flatter ourselves, we’d not make it very far. So we are LUCKY to be where we are today. The core idea is this: the price we pay for the privilege we have is the duty to use that privilege for the good of others. You see, my freedoms don’t end where your nose begins. My freedoms ends where my responsibilities begin.

But let’s step back from the rhetoric of fighting for a better world, and fighting in general. We all have our ideas and plans and beliefs on how best to accomplish our goals. And make no mistake, many of these conflict with each other. But do not believe that these disagreements means that we are truly divided, and thus unable to act. For that is the greatest deception of them all. For even those we disagree with want the same thing as we do--a better future for all who come. Unity isn’t some hoped-for event. Unity is a matter of perception.

 And that’s what we are. United. Making a stand, for a better society, a better world, a better future, for all.”

 -       Adarsha Shivakumar
April 16, 2013