Team Sustainable Urban Pioneers (Lauren Kim | Jinno Vicencio)

Yale University, New Haven, CT | Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa, CA


Lauren is a sophomore at Yale University interested in majoring in Environmental Studies. She is originally from Irvine, CA and is passionate about sustainable food and agriculture, environmental justice, urban planning, and clean energy. She loves to cook, pickle things, and eat avocados in her free time. At school, she works at the Yale Farm, Office of Sustainability and is a Dwight Hall Urban Fellow working with the City of New Haven Office of Economic Development. She decided to participate in PGC after feeling stuck in finding ways to engage with sustainability and feeling frustrated that her lifestyle is not as sustainable as it could be. She has been greatly inspired by the challenges (especially the challenge considering natural body products) she has completed and now looks at her life and the choices she makes in a different light.
Jinno is a sophomore at Orange Coast College interested in majoring in Agriculture. He lives in Orange County and explores local farmers markets and loves to support small businesses. He brings his reusable cup anywhere he goes to avoid using plastic cups and straws. Jinno currently works at Lush Cosmetics, which is a natural cosmetics company that fights against animal testing, uses fairtrade and organic ingredients. Jinno works hard to try and educate people about environmental issues and felt that by doing PGC, he could get a stronger understanding of the subject and back up his future conversations with scientific fact. Jinno’s favorite day was the Economics challenge, as it opened his eyes to how important it is to place your money into local banks. Since doing PGC, Jinno’s passion for the environment has only become stronger and it looks as if there is no stopping him and what he can do.

What five words best describe your PGC experience?

Motivational, transformational, fun, collaboration, rewarding

What was most memorable from your PGC experience?

For one of the challenges, we were called to make our own version of a “Better Burger”. Inspired by Lauren’s Korean heritage, we decided to make a black bean and gochujang (a traditional Korean red pepper sauce) burger. However, Jinno did not have any Korean ingredients at home, so we enlisted the help of Lauren’s mom who let Jinno borrow some of her gochujang and some homemade pickled vegetables. Through sharing resources and bridging communities, we were able to create a more sustainable burger. Lauren’s mom was even inspired to think of her own ways in which she can live more sustainably. PGC unexpectedly built a community and showed us that any opportunity is one to inspire others to live more sustainable lives. This experience just showed how our PGC challenges have built community connections and engagement on all sorts of levels.

What have you learned about yourself over the past 30 days?

Lauren: There are many layers to sustainability that I discovered through PGC. As I continue to learn more about sustainability, I realized just how much I need to work on improving my own personal self. It does not mean anything unless I ACT on what I have learned. In order to form successful habits, I need to first recognize what is lacking in my own life. To really be an environmental advocate, I need to make sure that I am living my own life in the most sustainable way possible. I have always considered myself a very straightforward person, but I realized that I have a creative side as well. I really enjoyed exploring different mediums during the PGC challenge and pushed myself to draw and design.
Jinno: Over the last 30 days it has further reinforced why I choose to pursue an environmentalist lifestyle. I felt small in what is was doing, whether it be eating vegan, thrift shopping, or just spending the extra money to encourage local businesses. Seeing all the amazing participants makes me feel that what I am doing is the right thing for my health and the environment. I have learned that there are TONS of young and inspiring students, just like me, wanting a better future for all of humanity.