Jaimen Perez — Student

William Olson Student Achievement Awardee

Auburn University, Auburn, AL 

Photo of Jaimen Perez with his William Olson Student Achievement in Sustainability Award.

Jaimen Perez with his William Olson Achievement in Sustainability Award.

Jaimen has immersed himself in sustainability efforts on campus and in the community since he first arrived as a freshman, beginning with Auburn Real Food Challenge.

Auburn Real Food Challenge (ARFC) is a student group that exists to “increase community-based, ecologically-sound, fair, and humane food at Auburn University and the surrounding community through action-based initiatives that will reconnect people with their food.” Jaimen has been involved with the Auburn Real Food Challenge (ARFC) since his freshman year, recruiting new members, creating new initiatives, and embracing responsibility for the Community Garden.

When ARFC took over responsibility for the Community Garden, Jaimen volunteered to serve as the first manager and set an exceptional standard for commitment and hard work. Collaborating with students, faculty, and community members, he has been involved in nearly all aspects of the garden, from day-to-day upkeep to envisioning its future. Projects for comprehensive composting, rain barrels, and a seed bank initiative have been started under his leadership.

Overall Jaimen’s efforts on behalf of the community garden have resulted in economic, social and environmental gains, proving that social, environmental, and economic benefits can accrue together.

Jaimen integrates sustainability in his study of economics and his experiences in the broader world. He completed a semester-long internship in New York with The Working World, a nonprofit organization committed to sustainability in financial and economic systems by creating democratic workplaces, worker-owned companies that are deeply rooted in local communities and committed to creating shared wealth.

Through his internship he had the opportunity to work in Far Rockaway NY, one of the oceanfront communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy, with some of the cooperatives supported by The Working World. The organization supports several democratic companies there, working to ensure that rebuilding occurs using local workers and local companies, and that rebuilding includes restoring social capital and community wellbeing. While in New York, Jaimen participated in the Peoples’ Climate March in September, 2014.

Jaimen interweaves idealism with practicality, people skills, leadership abilities, and a willingness to take action. He has a vision of what is possible and does what he can to bring that vision to reality.

Applying the principles and practices of sustainability throughout his academic, co-curricular, and volunteer activities, Jaimen demonstrates what it means to be a sustainability practitioner.

Jaimen Perez is a senior studying Economics in the College of Liberal Arts.