Kaushik Tota

Sunnyvale High School Student of the Year & California Energy Commission Youth Game Changer Recipient

image of kaushik tota holding awards

Kaushik Tota is the Sunnyvale High School Student of the Year 2019! Among many impressive accomplishments, Kaushik created and launched the Climate Youth Ambassador Program powered by SVCE. With this program, Kaushik leads a team of peers to conduct presentations at local elementary schools in order to educate students on ways they can help fight climate change and improve the environment. The team also joins community events to spread awareness on climate action and share ways to be more sustainable.

Demonstrating great leadership, passion and commitment to making Sunnyvale and Silicon Valley a better place, Kaushik is a very deserving recipient of Sunnyvale’s High School Student of the Year community award. We got the opportunity to sit down with Kaushik and ask him about Climate Youth Ambassadors, his key to success and his future goals.

What is something that surprised you about founding Climate Youth Ambassadors?
What surprised me was the enthusiasm of schools and school officials. We have been getting a lot of positive feedback and people are really enthusiastic about the program and are really happy to see an initiative like this exist. The community input and reception that has been something really surprising and something that made me really happy to see.

What has been one of your favorite parts of Climate Youth Ambassadors?
In general, it’s really interesting to hear other people’s perspectives. My favorite part of Climate Youth Ambassadors is definitely interacting with people – especially the kids because they have funny questions. They also surprise me and with their knowledge about the climate crisis and environmentalism. Shaping the student’s opinions on environmentalism can really have an impact on behavior in the long term.

What inspired you to start Climate Youth Ambassadors?
Well, the original idea for Climate Youth Ambassadors came from the Innovate Climate Action Sunnyvale event for the Climate Action Plan 2.0 Playbook. I was passionate about the climate crisis but didn’t have any solidified plans. I really wanted to do something to raise awareness about environmentalism. I thought that it would be interesting to get in touch with people and have face-to-face conversations with them to make it clear that this is a real issue and their actions do have an impact. Therefore, improving these actions will have a positive impact on the environment. I also wanted to focus on youth to make sure that everyone is aware of the climate crisis and climate change at an early age so it’s something that will be incorporated in their life as they grow up and make decisions.

Do you have any advice for your peers who wish to follow their passions as you have done?
Showing people the significance of what you are doing is very critical to getting things done. Without having a clear or appealing plan no one is going to be on board. If you have ambitions or something you want to do that is really good! You should use that passion and channel it into a concrete plan that people can get excited about and get involved in.

What are your future goals?
I want to continue to gain experience with my internship with SVCE and Climate Youth Ambassadors as it is a new sphere for me. I am really passionate about sustainability and renewable energy. I plan on continuing in this field with an engineering and science perspective and am interested in developing sustainable and renewable energy technologies.

kaushik presenting at a school