The following article from Little Village magazine spotlights Marcelo Mena-Carrasco, who won International Programs’ 2013 International Impact Award. Mena-Carrasco was featured on a WorldCanvass program “The Social Impact of Sustainability” in November 2013. Click here to listen to the full audio.
By John Miller
Earlier this month, Chile’s soon-to-be president, Michelle Bachelet, selected University of Iowa alum Marcelo Mena-Carrasco to serve as the country’s undersecretary of the environment. His recent efforts to improve the nation’s air quality played a major role in his selection for the post.
Mena-Carrasco’s term as a member of the Chilean cabinet begins when Bachelet takes office on March 11, but he was able to find time to call Little Village as he commuted through Santiago, riding on a bus before eventually taking advantage of the city’s extensive bicycle-lending system.
Long before he began his career as an environmental scientist, Mena-Carrasco was just a kid growing up in Chile listening to American rock music. He decided to pursue his master’s degree and doctorate in civil and environmental engineering at the University of Iowa in large part because of its proximity to Chicago, a place he saw as the mecca of the indie-rock music he loved. When he got to the university, he quickly discovered KRUI, the college’s student-run radio station, and decided to become a DJ.
“I had maybe four or five different music shows, and in my time at KRUI I produced maybe 400 shows. We actually produced a show that was sent out to Chile and played at the local Chilean radio station. It was a lot of fun once I got in. I had a great time.”
As music director, Mena-Carrasco made it his goal to create a more diverse and accessible musical environment at the radio station. He was an indie-rock fan first, but he recognized that there were fans of other types of music that weren’t being given any air-time.