Young environmentalist and innovator, Cassandra Lin, will guest lecture at the San Jacinto College Central Campus on Monday, Feb. 16.

In 2008, after visiting the Energy Solutions Expo at University of Rhode Island, Lin learned that biodiesel, an alternative energy, could be produced from waste cooking oil. Soon afterward, she came across an article in the local paper describing the state’s high unemployment rate affecting many families in her hometown of Westerly, Rhode Island, who were struggling to heat their homes. Seeing this need firsthand inspired Lin and a team of friends, then fifth graders, to start Project TGIF (Turn Grease Into Fuel). Project TGIF is an innovative system that collects grease from residents and restaurants, has it converted into biodiesel, and then distributes biofuel to local families for emergency heating assistance.

Today, the project is a huge success with 132 restaurants participating in the program and 22 residential recycling sites in three states. TGIF is able to heat the homes of 80 families annually.  Additionally, Lin and her team helped introduce and pass a Used Cooking Oil Recycling Act in the state of Rhode Island, which mandates that all businesses recycle their waste oil. Governor Chafee signed the bill into law in July 2011.  To date, TGIF has collected more than 180,000 gallons of grease, generated 150,000 gallons of biodiesel, and donated 40,000 gallons of BioHeat (valued at approximately $152,000) to heat the homes of 400 local families. According to the EPA’s calculations, the project has offset 3 million pounds of CO2 emissions.

Due to Project TGIF’s success, Lin has been invited to speak at both national and international events such as the TEDxEast conference in New York City; the Global Issues Service Summit in Nairobi, Kenya and Luxemburg; and was invited by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) to give two workshops to children and youth in Bandung, Indonesia during the UNEP TUNZA Conference for Children and Youth on the Environment. Lin has also been named one of the Top Ten Volunteers of the Year in 2011 by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards; a 2012 Young Wonder by CNN Heroes; honored at the 2013 Jefferson Awards; and named one of The 25 Most Powerful and Influential Young People by Youth Service America and Huffington Post in 2012. She is also a Brower Youth Award recipient for her environmental work in 2013, and was recently honored by Nickelodeon as a HALO honoree in November 2014.

Cassandra Lin will speak at the San Jacinto College Central Campus on Monday, Feb. 16 at 10 a.m., in Slocomb Auditorium (building 12). This event is sponsored by the San Jacinto College Service-Learning Committee and the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL), and is free and open to the public.


About San Jacinto College

Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of approximately 30,000 credit students. The College offers 186 degrees and certificates, with 46 technical programs and a university transfer division. Students benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success, and job training programs that are renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.

For more information about San Jacinto College, please call 281-998-6150, visit, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.