“Don’t ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman
Alex Freid began his college career at UNH because it made sense financially. As a local resident, there is a stigma about attending UNH, but Alex believes “it is what you make it…the Durham you know in high school and the Durham you know in college can be different.” Alex began his activism in high school, attending meetings with the UNH Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC) and Peace and Justice League. He jumped right into a leadership role once officially on campus. By October of his freshman year with SEAC, he helped implement the mural painted in downtown Durham.
Through the Peace and Justice League, Alex spent his freshman year organizing the 40th anniversary reunion of the anti-war protests and strike at UNH. He spent dozens of hours researching the original event, gathering newspaper clippings, video footage, newsletters and notes. His research efforts were developed into an official University archive. The reunion event brought the 1970 Student Body President back to campus to speak before an intergenerational crowd of 400 people. This event was considered controversial because of the nature of the original event, but according to his nominator Nick Smith, Alex was able to work with caution and care, having great poise.
Alex, a dual Philosophy and Political Science major, has been a part of over 40 activist events on campus. He spent his earlier years taking the lead on projects, and his later building and teaching leadership to the younger members of his groups. Alex’s gift is big picture thinking. He is a charismatic leader who thinks about the future. He is able to see where there is room for improvement and development in organizations. He works to solve problems by investigating long term solutions. Alex teaches people the process and develops leadership, and when the new leadership is in place he walks away and finds a new issue to tackle. It is easy to predict he will continue on this path creating organizations, inviting others to find their passions and take the lead.
At the end of his freshman year Alex observed and photo-documented trash dumpsters overflowing with usable items during student move-out. This led to the Trash 2 Treasure program, an off-shoot of SEAC, which sought to alleviate waste. From its creation the program wanted to be autonomous from University funding, knowing its success depended on it being a self-funded sustainable organization. The success of the program is credited to Alex and a few students who overcame many obstacles to found and create a program which through volunteer time collects, stores, repairs, and cleans thousands of items to be sold during student opening weekend. Through fundraising and a Parent’s Association Grant, $10,000 was raised with proceeds from the event bringing in $12,000. In the second year the program made over $20,000, establishing the first student led, self-sustaining program in the country.
Currently, Alex is establishing the Trash 2 Treasure program as a national non-profit. The mission is “to effectuate a step-by-step zero waste movement on college campuses across the country through student-led waste reduction and re-use programs.” This organization will offer funding and assistance to students around the country to build self-sustaining programs on their own campuses. He hopes to work with this non-profit next year.
Alex believes there are many people who have helped him be successful in his endeavors on campus. The late Bob Pettigrew, who assisted with student fee funding, was an ally for all of these programs and organizations. Chief of Police Paul Dean is another person who has been instrumental in the success of the Trash 2 Treasure program.
Additionally, Alex has spent a semester abroad in Argentina studying theories of social justice focusing on social movements and human rights. He is also the youngest member on the Board of Directors of NH Peace Action, an organization he has been involved in for years. Through this, he is coordinating the 5th annual NH Youth for Peace and Justice Conference, which he hopes will be the starting point for a statewide network of groups offering growth and support for young peace activists. He was recently awarded the prestigious National Udall Fellowship given to students who have demonstrated leadership in the environment and interest in future environmental careers. He is taking time this spring to work on the White Ribbon Campaign with SHARPP, which is an international campaign involving men who take a pledge to help end violence against women.
Alex is a driven individual. He is an organizer, an activist and advocate. As his nominator wrote, he is an “exemplary leader, member of the community, scholar. He is an honest, persistent and even tenacious advocate for justice.” Alex is inspiring, curious and certainly has “more of a voice than [he] realizes.” Alex’s skill set is unique. He will no doubt use his leadership to make changes in our world and through his passion inspire others to find their own passion.
2012 - 2013 CYOS Honorees: (left to right) Brittany Zorn, Laura Gardocki, Peter Callahan, Merhawi Wells-Bogue, Molly Hunt, Larry Rackliff, Lauren Banker, Ben Claxton, Alex Freid, Jihyon Im