Alumni of ESLP



Sonia Schendel - collab organizer

Sonia is pursuing an Environmental Studies major and Education minor. She’s in her third year at UCSC and this is her fourth quarter with ESLP! She’s interested in environmental policy, environmental justice, sustainable agriculture and so much more. She is also TAing for ENVS 25 and works at an off campus gym. She loves to go to the beach, eat food, travel and be with her family and friends (and cat)!

Breana watkins - Mono co-chair

Bre is in her 4th year after transferring to UCSC in her 3rd year. She has facilitated an Action Research Team and has been involved in ESLP for three quarters now! Her major is Business Management Economics. She is most passionate about self care and environmental care. She believes they both go hand in hand with sustainability activism. Bre is a Yoga instructor for FitLife and likes traveling, scuba diving, and picking up plastic in her free time. Her go to quote is, Love the environment as much as you love yourself.



Sophia Kang

Sophia is a 3rd year Psychology Major and Dance Minor. She’s most interested in environmental justice. She’s involved in College Nine and Ten Tech Crew and is dancing for Random with a Purpose (RWAP) this year. She went to a performing arts high school (Orange Country School of the Arts). She loves to eat good food (motto: live to eat!!), watch movies, go to the beach, and travel. She began as an organizer in fall of 2017, and has now been organizing for over a year!


Mark Valen

I was involved with ESLP from 2005 - 2009. I started in the Academic Sphere then moved into the Heart Sphere. I started my ESLP experience as a student enrolled in the 5-Unit class, then facilitated an Action Research Team, then was in the Academic Sphere as a 2-Unit Coordinator (we developed the acronym C.R.A.F.T: Critical Re-Thinking And Foundational Tools) and became a member of the Staff Evolution Subcommittee, next I became a Heart Sphere Chair and also was a CUIP intern for ESLP where I worked on the first Long Term Strategic Plan for the three organizations now known as enviroslug.

I am nearly finished with a Master's Degree in Sustainability and Environmental Management from Harvard University.  I work as a Professor at Southwestern Community College and run the Horticulture, Landscape Architecture, and Sustainability programs.  I volunteer as a board member of the Chula Vista Historical Society, and am the chair of the Sustainability Commission for the City of Chula Vista.  

ESLP was the beginning of my journey towards personal empowerment and action research.  To be a UCSC student and simultaneously putting my studies to use to create positive change on campus taught me that I can immediately be part of the solution, and therefore have the responsibility to act.  I apply the skills I gained in ESLP every day as an educator and mentor at Southwestern College and as a member of my community.  The Education for Sustainable Living Program impacted my life completely and allowed to me find a passion that otherwise may have remained hidden.


Leah walsh

I was incredibly blessed to work with ESLP from 2005-2007. During this time I served primarily in the Academic Sphere, supporting the planning and facilitation of the Spring lecture series and co-teaching the Winter Training Seminar with Tawn Kennedy. I also co-led an Action Research Team with Ora Gessler and Irene Vasquez the Spring of 2007 titled Native Communities: Race, Gender, Location. I use the skills I learned and applied during my time at ESLP in every professional job I have held since leaving UCSC. These skills include public speaking, project and program design, implementation and evaluation, facilitation skills, collaboration with diverse groups of people, modeling authentic leadership, and community organizing.

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Kai Sawyer

I had the great privilege of being an ESLP organizer and co-chair from 2005-2007. I helped develop the ART facilitator training course and co-created the “UC and the Bomb” ART. I continues to be an ESLP organizer working around the world, collaborating with inspiring teachers such as Satish Kumar in Schumacher College, who was an annual speaker during the early years of ESLP. I now lives in rural Japan as a farmer, peace activist, and dreamer. My project is called Tokyo Urban Permaculture and I am developing a Gandhian training center called the Peace and Permaculture Dojo. My transformational experience as an ESLP organizer has been the source of energy and hope in the face of nuclear disasters, war, and political absurdity. My daily practice is to be moved by love.

Aurora Winslade

I was one of the co-founders of the statewide and UC Santa Cruz ESLP program and I worked with ESLP directly for four years as a student and then as the university's first Sustainability Coordinator, then continued to advise while I worked at UCSC. I helped design the structure, run the lecture series, facilitate the course, launch the training program to guide students through project design to become project leaders, manage budgets, and get the course approved.  Since then, I founded UCSC Sustainability Office, the University of Hawaii's 10-campus sustainability program, completed an MBA from the Duke University Fuqua School of Business, managed a statewide market transformation for energy efficiency program in Hawaii, and I now work as the Director of Sustainability for Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. Being a part of ESLP was a formative experience for me - it helped shape who I am and how I show up in the world in countless ways, including improving my facilitation, communication, project management, and interpersonal skills. Most of all, it gave me the confidence to be bold and visionary as I work with my community to create the world I want to live in. I am forever grateful for the community we formed and I continue to be inspired by the student leaders in ESLP.

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