Kevin Olivarez is a 21-year-old that's making Las Vegas a better place. He has aspirations of focusing on a career where he can make a difference through conservation, education and animal protection. He enjoys swimming, cycling, and camping in his spare time.
My journey toward taking action on climate change has been atypical. I didn’t care about anything in high school. I was expelled several times and I attended five different schools.
Thankfully, two key moments turned me around. The first occurred during my junior year when I learned I had earned only three credits for the entire year. At that moment, I decided I wanted to be a different Kevin and that I would start fresh at my fifth school, Burk Horizon High School, where I eventually earned my degree.
The process of changing my ways at Burk wasn’t easy. At one point, I fell back into my past and the school considered expelling me. However, I managed to survive that scare long enough to meet ACE.
Seeing the ACE Assembly at Burk was the second important moment that helped me change my life. It made me feel like I needed to do something for the planet. Until then, I was focused solely on trying to complete my work so that I could become the first person in my family to earn a high school degree. But after watching the presentation, I asked my teacher if we could create an environmental club.
My class started an environmental club and things picked up rapidly at Burk. My classmates electing me president of the club and together we launched a school-wide recycling program. We also won a local ACE energy competition, which resulted in a local newspaper writing about my work at Burk. The exposure from that article led my school district to invite me to its first annual district sponsored trip to the Green Schools’ Conference, which occurred in Florida that year.
Unfortunately, my environmental work fell flat after graduation. I felt alone because I didn’t have the same support to set up environmental projects that I had at Burk. The people in my community weren’t enthused about energy efficiency. Some didn’t see its importance while others felt that sticking with their normal routine was easier.
I also experienced a setback in my career aspirations. I had enrolled into the College of Southern Nevada, with the goal of becoming a firefighter, but I had learned later that I had a back condition that would prevent me from pursuing that dream.
Fortunately, I landed a job at an environmentally conscience cosmetics shop named Lush. Lush supports local suppliers that respect the environment, creates product lines that give back to the planet, and offers products that contain as little packaging as possible to limit waste. Company policies like these reinforced habits I had developed in high school. For example, I joined my store’s green team to improve staff recycling.
Thanks to organizations like ACE and Lush, my new goal is to launch a career in sustainability. It’s so awesome to work at a company that concentrates on the values I established in high school: serving people, animals, and the environment.
Please support students like me by supporting ACE.