It seems that sometimes, people — especially teenagers — forget the importance of the environment and are blind to the harm that they might cause to it. This is not the case for junior Nicole Cardona, who is huge on protecting the environment and keeping everything eco-friendly.
Cardona goes out of her way to have a positive impact on the environment, making sure to take short showers and even taking time to pick up other people’s garbage.
“I take really short showers and I ride my bike as much as I can. I recycle a lot, especially at home,” Cardona said. “Over the summer, my sisters and I sometimes go around and pick up trash. We have a bike path close to our house and a lot of people litter there, so we just go there and pick it all up.”
Although Cardona is very passionate about protecting the Earth and keeping it safe, in the past she wasn’t very aware of her part in the ecosystem.
“The older I got, the more my eyes opened up to how the world actually is. I watched a lot of documentaries about the environment and why we’re all so connected to the Earth,” Cardona said. “I feel that our connection to the Earth is due to the law of attraction.”
The law of attraction is the name given to the saying “like attracts like.” The law of attraction, a part of New Thought philosophy, is the belief that the energy that is being put out is the energy that will be returned.
“The law of attraction is that if you think positively and of good things, good things will come to you,” Cardona explained. “But if you think negatively and believe that bad things will happen to you, then they will. Basically, it’s that you attract the energy you’re giving off.”
It seems that the law of attraction actually works, especially since Cardona’s passions have also transferred positively to her peers and close friends.
“Nicole really has influenced me to be more careful towards the environment,” junior Simone Perrin said. “My showers are still long, but when she tells me this kind of thing, it makes me more appreciative towards the Earth.”
Cardona’s interests aren’t limited to the environment. At West, she’s a part of French club, Science Olympiad, Orchesis, and FEMclub. Last year, Cardona participated in protests for the Coalition for the Homeless at the Governor’s mansion.
She is also a member of Expanding Lives, a non-profit that provides young women from West Africa with education and leadership experiences.
“Nicole is really friendly and outgoing,” executive director Leslie Natzke said. “The girls engage with her and she’s actually been with us for so long that she knows the program really well. Whenever the girls are super shy, she knows how to push past that and get them to engage more.”
When Cardona grows up, she dreams of becoming either an executive chef or joining the Peace Corps.
“I love cooking almost anything. I was a vegetarian, but at the moment I’m vegan,” Cardona said. “I try making my own recipes to have less of a negative impact on the environment. I think that’s one of my biggest things right now. I really care for the environment and my priority is to put the Earth first, because you don’t want to bite the hand that’s feeding you.”
By becoming an executive chef, Cardona believes that she’ll still be able to help the environment and continue her social activism.
“I’m really passionate about helping others and putting others before myself, because I know I’m privileged and that I have the opportunity of doing things that many kids and adults don’t,” Cardona said. “I think it’s really important for me to keep up with that because it’s really sad to have an idea and then just give up on it because it’s too hard to keep going. Hopefully through me being a vegan chef, I’ll be able to educate other people, which will help them be better people themselves and be able to work with the Earth instead of just being on it.”