Kenneth Xu ’17 tends a pollinator garden. His dream job: EPA Administrator.Before arriving at NCSSM, Kenneth Xu ‘17 was already concerned about environmental issues because of the serious air pollution problems that his grandparents faced in their urban hometown. Now Xu serves as executive president of the Student Environmental Education Coalition, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that he founded to combat the consequences of environmental and scientific misunderstanding in North Carolina. When not attending class, he works with his board of directors to provide unique opportunities for other young people to get involved in environmental activities such as service learning projects, grassroots campaigns, colloquium series, summer camps, and seminars. The group mainly collaborates with local universities, including UNC-Chapel HIll’s Community Garden and Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. The coalition is also planning an environmental colloquium series at NCSSM with the help of student Sustainability Project Leaders.
Earlier this year, Xu’s nonprofit created and directed a week-long environmental science summer camp for kids at a local elementary school. The work earned Xu the President’s Volunteer Service Award. He’s now developing hands-on workshops for students at his former elementary school, Seawell Elementary in Chapel Hill, and local underprivileged children in the Triangle. He especially enjoys environmental service learning, helping kids understand the connection between natural science and public service and ultimately boosting their interest in both environmental issues and STEM careers. He plans to continue his service work in college, with plans to eventually study environmental biology and public policy.
Hometown: Chapel Hill, NC
Hall: 3rd East
Favorite class: Environmental Chemistry and Western European Cultural Studies
Favorite food: Maple View ice cream
Dream job: Administrator of the EPA
Secret talent: I love playing classical and jazz piano; once I accidentally practiced for 10 hours in a row!
Favorite way to spend a Saturday: Playing chamber and orchestral music at Duke University
— Profile and photos by Raymond Gao ’17