Unlike most TCU students, Jordan Mazurek has had the same cell phone since high school. He takes the bus and only buys a new pair of shoes after he has completely worn out his current pair.
“I don’t need a new phone—this one works perfectly fine,” he said. “The things I have are perfectly fine.”
The Fort Worth native chooses to live a sustainable lifestyle, something far from just taking part in the green movement of recent generations.
“Green-washing says ‘Hey buy our product because we’re green,’ while sustainability says ‘don’t buy the product in the first place,” he said.
Mazurek, a sociology major, became passionate about sustainability because he grew up in poverty. After his father was diagnosed with scleroderma, a disease that causes the skin and organ to turn to bone, his parents divorced. Mazurek moved with his mother into an apartment at the public storage facility where she worked. His mother broke one of the discs in her spine and was fired from the public storage facility and had her insurance taken away. They moved into assisted living, which, according to the state of Texas, is equivalent to homelessness. They lived on food stamps and welfare.
“You don’t really know what it’s like to go hungry nights and wonder where your next meal is coming from unless you’ve been there, you know?” he said. “I don’t want to let anyone else have to go through that and that’s what made me passionate about helping people.”
Sustainability gave Mazurek a framework of how to help people. He took Keith Whitworth’s sustainability course as a first year student and that taught him how to not only avoid making an impact on the environment, but to also avoid leaving a mess for future generations.
“Everything I do is united around sustainability,” he said.
Mazurek has specifically chosen each group with which he is involved to encourage sustainability on campus. As president of the TCU chapter of Habitat for Humanity, the president of Society of Sustainability, an Add-Ran representative for the Student Government Association and even more groups that fill his schedule, Mazurek makes sure to be a part of groups that focus on helping others and making changes.
One of his major changes for the university was installing Dream Machines around campus. The Dream Machine is a recycling initiative from PepsiCo that recycles plastic and aluminum cans and donates all proceeds to the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, a program that offers free business management training to post-9/11 United States disabled veterans. The Dream Machines on campus are located in the Rec Center, Grand Marc and various residence halls.
Chuck Dunning, the director of assessment for TCU Student Development Services, first met Mazurek while teaching a leadership seminar in fall 2010.
“Immediately there was this kind of odd thing about Jordan—he seems aloof but he’s one of the most involved people I know,” he said. “And how is it that this guy who seems to be hard to connect with is one of the most connected guys on campus?”
Mazurek said he tries to make connections with all of the people he meets.
“The real reason I go after any venture is the connections I can make and the change I can cause with those connections,“ he said.
Whitworth praised Mazurek’s determination and drive to make changes at the university.
“He is capable of taking an idea and making it happen,” Whitworth said. “He follows through, and he’s very adept at utilizing various avenues to accomplish his goals.”
Whitworth said Mazurek is one of the few students to really grasp all of sustainability’s components and apply them. Mazurek has taken his past, his passions and his determination to make changes now and, from what Dunning and Whitworth said, make major changes in the future.
“He’s got a big, loving heart,” Dunnig said. “And if he didn’t have that, then all of his intelligence, and all of his other talents and skills—his abilities to organize and to write—all of those things would be wasted.”
Making a difference is only possible if more people become as passionate as he is, Mazurek said.
“I’m just one person—I can’t make that much of a difference,” he said. “But if we encourage hundreds and thousands people to stand up and have all of their collective voices heard that’s the only way anything’s really going to happen.”