At age 16, Carmina Mancenon found herself presenting to a room of 100 world leaders, including heads of state, at the 2010 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. It was a heady experience.
She was pitching her idea for an international nonprofit to reduce poverty and build bridges between privileged and underprivileged youth. “We had five minutes to present an idea with a few slides that changed every 20 seconds,” she says. “My idea was Stitch Tomorrow.”
Mancenon spent three years in Manila for primary school and later moved to Tokyo, where she attended high school (she speaks idiomatic English, as well as Japanese and Tagalog, the Philippine dialect). Her exposure to extremes in wealth and poverty in these two very different environments got her thinking about the fashion initiative. With a friend in Australia, Mancenon came up with Stitch Tomorrow to help underprivileged teenagers establish themselves in the fashion business as designers, managers and models, while servicing the fashion desires of privileged youth.
Through a network called Global Changemakers, an organization with the mission of empowering youth to catalyze positive social change, Mancenon was able to present her idea to the World Economic Forum. “Stitch Tomorrow will provide teens with resources, capital and education to help them create their own eco-friendly fashion lines with clothing materials made out of recycled materials,” she explained to the receptive audience
. The pitch worked so well that Mancenon and her partner were able to attract some very high-profile backers in the Philippines and other parts of the globe.
At Princeton, she is continuing to build on her interests in social entrepreneurship, academic research and policy involving developing countries. She spent the summer of her freshman year in Zithulele Village in the Eastern Cape of South Africa researching the impact of child mortality on women’s fertility choices in poor, rural communities, and a summer in India at Infosys Technologies as a social risk management consultant.
Mancenon is co-founder of the Sustainable Fashion Initiative at Princeton and is a member of the Pace Council for Civic Values, a student board at the Pace Center
that seeks to promote a culture of active citizenship at the University. She also is vice president of the Undergraduate Student Government, social chair of the International Students Association, and is active in the Social Entrepreneurship Initiative
, which stages events with high profile figures to focus students on the possibilities of innovation and social change
In 2013, she was selected to represent Japan as a delegate to the G(irls)20 Summit in Moscow. From hundreds of applicants, the summit brings together one delegate every year from each G20 country, plus a represenative from the European Union and African Union, to present ideas for economic innovation to the G20 leaders.
Before coming to Princeton, Mancenon visited universities in the United States, United Kingdom, Japan and the Philippines, but was drawn to Princeton because of its strong school spirit and explicit focus on civic engagement. She believes that Princeton is unique in the learning it provides to students outside the University’s gates.