The next time someone says, “One person can’t really make a difference in the care of our environment,” you can respond by simply saying, ‘Ask Mayra Cordero at El Paso Community College.’
Cordero has been working for El Paso Community College (EPCC) as an Environmental Specialist for 7 years.
Born in Mexico City and raised in Delicias, Chihuahua, she came to EPCC as a student and attended English as a Second Language (ESL) courses where she was invited to attend a class for Student Leadership. As part of the leadership class, Cordero had to present a project and through much research, she discovered that recycling would save a lot of money for the college.
She presented this project to former EPCC President Dr. Richard Rhodes, he told Cordero that it was an excellent idea.
Cordero knew this was an opportunity to help recycle and create a better environment for this institution. “I noticed there was a need in the college and I thought I could help develop a plan for EPCC.”
One year later she was hired as EPCC’s Recycling Coordinator. The Recycling Program started in September, 2009 at the Valle Verde Campus and at the Administrative Services Center (ASC). The program had a very good response from the students, faculty and staff so it was extended to the remaining campuses a couple of months later.
“In a few weeks I knew that I had a real leader in Mayra,” said Richard Lobato, EPCC Executive Director of Physical Plant, “Mayra made sure that all EPCC personnel were aware of the changes she was implementing.”
The Recycling Program has helped other organizations to either start their own program or to grow it; one of them is The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). At the beginning of her research, Cordero went to UTEP to find out how they were recycling. At that time UTEP was only recycling cardboard. When she took charge at EPCC and the program started to show very good results, representatives from UTEP sat down with her to find out more about her successful program.
“The main reason why this program has been very successful is because the janitors have done an excellent job,” Cordero said, “also the support from EPCC staff and faculty who were eager to start recycling.”
Since Cordero started the program, EPCC has recycled 840 tons of paper, cans and plastic bottles. The program has expanded and now it recycles toners, batteries and office supplies as well.
EPCC has received many honors, one of them being the Green Business Challenge Award, which is a customizable national model that local governments can use to engage local businesses to save money, energy, water, and waste, improving their business’ environmental performance.
Cordero continues to educate even more students, staff and faculty on the award-winning recycling program.