He is obsessed about the “Planet Earth” series on the Discovery Channel, loves striking up random conversations with people, and even started his own non-profit organization called Tech Go Green from scratch. Meet Ivan Kan, a UCI alumnus and marketing coordinator at the UC Irvine Career Center.
Kan graduated from UC Irvine in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in environmental analysis and design as well as a master’s in urban and regional planning. One of his biggest influences was a professor at UCI who inspired him to take up an interest in urban planning and environmental issues.
During his senior year at UCI, he gathered a group of his closest friends and made a daring move — he incorporated his own non-profit organization from the ground up. His goal was to spread awareness about environmental issues and energy-efficiency.
“I wanted to empower the locals and the younger generation,” Kan said. “I wanted to get peers excited about the environment. I feel like our generation doesn’t really care about responsibilities. What do we do for fun? We go out to LA. We go clubbing. We drink. I feel like if I could get my generation excited, we could possibly capture that energy and channel it into something good for the community. And that would do a world of difference.”
Ivan remembers staying at Borders for hours and reading every single paragraph, line and sentence in books about non-profit organizations. His dedication and persistence eventually paid off.
Tech Go Green was incorporated in 2008 as a non-profit organization in Torrance, California.
“It’s all about environmental advocacy,” Kan said. “There are a lot of green organizations like Green Peace. They do a lot of large scale awareness but there aren’t a lot of small local change agents. I wanted to create this local change agent that would exist beyond me and benefit the community.”
During the academic year, Kan and his colleagues spread awareness at various colleges including UCI. They started handing out shirts that said, “This shirt only comes in green” and talked to as many young individuals as possible to educate and inform.
Kan also trained interns in energy-efficient projects at facilities like the YMCA. He helped interns understand how to file reports and figure out eco-friendly methods. He wanted his interns to come out of the program knowing more than they did before while making a difference one light bulb at a time.
Tech Go Green is always coming up with new events and projects to benefit the community. Some of the projects include e-waste recycling and ways to reduce electricity, emission and water usage at facilities and corporations. According to their website, Tech Go Green has helped the YMCA in Torrance save up to $51,700 in energy savings. They are currently in the process of other projects at places such as Norris Theater, Bread of Life Church and LTK Consulting.
Kan has spoken at various panels at USC and community colleges with representatives from Southern California Edison and environmental advocacy groups. His most memorable moment was when he made a speech at a Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) conference in Irvine. He had his speech close at hand, but decided to put it away and speak from his heart. He addressed the audience and told them the ideas behind his dream to one day start a non-profit organization, including his struggles and setbacks. For Kan, that was one of the most inspiring things he has done in his life.
“If you really want something, you’ll stop at nothing to get it,” Kan said. “At that time, nothing could stop me. I think if you have that positive mentality, positive things will happen to you.”
For Kan, age shouldn’t be a concern when thinking outside the box. No matter how old you are, it is never too late to come up with innovative ideas. Just because you are young does not mean you are not capable of bettering the world.
“I saw my non-profit as the biggest adventure,” Kan said. “I felt like not many people would do something as crazy as starting up something from scratch in the economy. Let alone, I had just graduated and got my closest friends to help me out.”
Aside from his non-profit organization, Kan is quite the explorer. Just this past summer, instead of driving and using gas, he and his friends decided to ride their bicycles from Torrance to Malibu.
“If I could go back in time, I’d be Lewis and Clark. I love exploring the unknown,” Kan said.
Aside from his impressive talents, this social butterfly seems to strike up a conversation anywhere he goes. Kan had such a great experience at UCI. Now, his mission is to share his college experience with current undergraduates. Just this past week, he struck up a conversation with a transfer student at Le Dip.
“I just like being in people’s lives,” Kan said. “Maybe I’ll only be her friend for a year, but just for a year — I can make her grow and share what I experienced during my undergraduate years at UCI.”
In the next couple of years, Ivan hopes to attain financial stability.
“I don’t think my career will be my legacy of success. I feel like it’s what I do outside of my career that I’m going to consider as my big success. I’m all about learning at your job,” Kan said.
For more information about sustainable alternatives and environmental advocacy, check out www.techgogreen.org.