Mazengia holding Kroon Cup in front of Kroon Hall

Champion for Outdoor Inclusivity Awarded Kroon Cup

While at YSE, Esaac Mazengia ’24 MESc revived the Outdoor Rec Industry Student Interest Group (SIG), which brings students together to discuss the outdoor industry’s impacts on the environment, economics, and society. He also raised funds for students to learn how to ski, go rafting for the first time, and engage with nature in a way they may otherwise have never experienced. 

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Mazengia’s efforts earned him this year’s Kroon Cup, which is presented annually to individuals and groups that embody stewardship and implement projects that engage and inspire the YSE community. Students, staff, and faculty vote to determine the winner among a list of nominated candidates.

“While I may be the one being recognized for this award, I think ultimately what winning the Kroon Cup represents to me is all the amazing people whom I have had a chance to interact with and learn from while being a student leader at this school,” Mazengia said. “I hope that everyone sees this award not as something I received but as something we received for our shared passion for building a YSE community that is vibrant, inclusive, and committed to ensuring everyone has a mostly positive experience.”

Students who nominated Mazengia said he was essential in bringing the YSE community together.

“If anyone in our class would be voted ‘Most Likely to Create a Better World,’ then it would be Esaac Mazengia. He is a pillar of our community through his SIG leadership, research, and dedication to supporting nearly every event at YSE. I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t know Esaac because he is constantly helping those around him and organizing events. He has organized multiple YSE-wide events for students to try skiing and rafting for the first time in their lives, which connects us all to the environment and one another. He ensures that every event is accessible to all regardless of their physical ability or financial situation,” one student wrote in nominating Mazengia.

While at YSE, Mazengia also served as DEI coordinator and Student Affairs committee member and contributed to Community Conversations and Class of 1980 Fund initiatives. He’s also known for baking incredible sweets such as strawberry rhubarb pie, maple pecan baklava, and lots of cookies, which he shared with the community.

“When people saw me walking in with my little reusable shopping tote, they knew a baked treat was just a smile and ask away,” Mazengia said. “By bringing baked goods now and then, I was able to bring a little bit of joy and reward to the work that we were doing.” 

At YSE, Mazengia studied how access to outdoor recreation affects health and well-being within African immigrant communities. 

“From my summer research, I saw the incredible impact that adventure recreation, such as white-water rafting or skiing, could have on building strong and resilient community connections and lifelong memories. From watching the beaming smiles of peer instructors teaching their classmates and friends how to ski for the first time to hearing the peals of laughter as a group of previously unknown community members became friends as they paddled in unison down the river — helping to facilitate environmental joy amongst my classmates amidst what can be at times a stressful academic environment, brought me great joy as well.” 

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This summer, Mazengia will be a fellow at the Environmental Fellows Program at YSE. During his 12-week fellowship, he’ll intern with Oakland-based philanthropy Justice Outside, which invests in community organizations around the country working to promote outdoor equity. He’ll start a doctoral program at University of California, Santa Cruz in the fall. 

“Inspired by my time at YSE, my PhD research will focus on the role of environmental joy and outdoor recreation as a component to build community climate resilience as a part of a just transition,” Mazengia said.

Mazengia was among several graduates honored with awards at commencement ceremonies on May 20. Xiyao Fu ’24 MESc received the Donnelley Award; Christy Mueller ’24 MEM and Jigchen Norbu ’24 MEM received the Learning Community Award; The Forestry Club received the Geballe Award; Samantha Almonacid ’24 MEM was named Equity Champion; and doctoral student Andrew Vogt and Alberto Andrade ’24 MEM/ MBA received the Teaching Fellow Award..

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