West High School class of 2018 alumnus Charles Hua is a rising junior at Harvard College studying Statistics and Mathematics. Charles was first introduced to climate change as a second grader at Van Hise Elementary School, when his teacher taught about climate change and emphasized the important role younger generations could play in taking initiative to solve environmental issues. A decade later, while a student at West High School, Charles served as president of the school’s Green Club, where he helped launch “Project Solis,” an initiative through which individuals and organizations could “adopt” and name a solar panel with a $500 donation. Through the generosity of students, parents, staff, alumni, residents, local businesses, foundations, and many others, Charles helped raise $150,000 to install solar panels for the school.
The community support that Project Solis both demonstrated and generated inspired Charles to take the initiative a step further. Shortly thereafter, Charles, along with other students, parents, and residents, launched 100% Renew Madison, a campaign that collected 2,500 signatures and successfully petitioned the Madison School Board to adopt a 100% renewable energy resolution, helping MMSD become the largest school district in the U.S. with such a commitment. In recognition of this work, Charles was named by the U.S. Department of Education as a 2018 U.S. Presidential Scholar, an honor typically granted to two students per state.
Now at Harvard, Charles’ passion for sustainability has only continued to grow. Charles serves as Director of Sustainability for Harvard CBE, where he has helped recruit Fortune 500, international NGO, and startup clients and leads consulting projects working to develop and advance sustainability initiatives for these organizations. Charles also conducts research at Harvard Kennedy School on topics ranging from climate stimulus policy to blockchain applications in energy, advises Harvard on sustainability strategy in preparation for the launch of its new sustainability plan, serves as the youngest-ever member of the Board of Directors for environmental nonprofits Clean Wisconsin, Energy News Network, and Slipstream, and is working on launching a podcast exploring the intersection of empathy and sustainability. Beyond his interests in sustainability, Charles also serves as a student manager for the Harvard Men’s Basketball Team, edits podcasts through the student-run radio station, and is an avid fan of biking, writing, photography, sports, and food.
Charles attributes much of his passion for sustainability and social impact to the teachers, friends, and mentors he met throughout his MMSD journey. These strong relationships, along with the opportunities he encountered while as an MMSD student, helped instill in Charles the confidence, skills, and desire to play a part in tackling pressing challenges facing society. Believing we are at the convergence of a climate, racial equity, health, and economic crisis, Charles is eager to see how society responds to this challenge--and the opportunity--to redesign the world to become a version more sustainable, livable, and equitable.
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