Pretty much everyone has a special experience with IDEAS. I am no different. My story began with a walk to the campus yard, Memory Mall. I heard the environmental club was going to make a miniature house. My first thoughts were “Are students making model houses to give away to homeless people?” “What’s the policy behind making a house on campus?” “How many people are actually doing this?” At arrival, I gazed at the grass field seeing many teams of people swarming around their bundles of lumber. I saw rulers, pencils, plywood, and… socializing? This was a competition! Ran by the humble UCF chapter of Habitat for Humanity, Shack-A-Thon was a competition to build a reasonably-looking box of a house. I asked around to locate IDEAS. A wonderful person named Lauren directed me to the right.

Walking up, I met people who greeted me with kindness and respect. I returned the favor and started moving. We all had a small amount of time and I don’t think any of us actually built something before… There was a plan and some geometry was involved, but that must have blown away somewhere. After a few hours of running back and forth, we had about nothing done. This event must have been a big thing, because communication was breaking down… hard.

communication breakdown

So, here comes the glue of imagination! We agreed to just work together. Walls then were supported by people, so others can mend the corners. Recycled materials were crafted into roof shingles. Foamy insulation somehow pounced into our area like a swarm of bunnies, then hopped into place. Recycled materials were splashing onto the walls in more ways than I thought possible. By this time, it dawned on me that the whole purpose for IDEAS entering the competition was to promote education through creativity. As we neared completion, ideas were flowing out of everyone’s mind. Bamboo was lashed across the front and “The Green House” was tacked onto the archway. Hoo-rah.

We won first place

We won first place.

IDEAS invaded my thoughts after that. I wanted more acts of environmental education. I wanted to spend time with these people because they actually listened. By befriending IDEAS, I acted with them and saw that I wanted change in myself. Even through my struggles, going to meetings was relieving because my thoughts were actually considered and we all tangibly worked on something better than ourselves.

Later on that year, I barely made it financially to attend something called Powershift. That story… the odds… were impossible. But somehow, 40-freaking-students… made it up to Washington DC AND BACK to Florida. We made it to the coolest conference ever. I’ve never seen so much of people my age actually congregating to do something about the world.

Looking around, that’s when I knew it was possible.

I eventually kissed the girl I love now at Powershift.

She’s the one behind me

My finishing years at UCF were dedicated to doing the things I can for the environment because I believe wholeheartedly in the larger concepts. So many other unbelievable opportunities came up because the IDEAS crew worked on it. Wanting to leave my own mark on the chapter, I took responsibility my last semester to lead other people interested in the local environmental club.

Have graduated two months ago and looking back, I realized that all people, including me, have power to actually make change.