Student Experience at College of San Mateo
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Student Experience
Richael Young
Richael Young University of Illinois, Environmental Engineering

Richael Young never wanted to be an entrepreneur. Growing up, she saw firsthand the struggles her self-employed parents often faced. From swings in revenue to never being able to take a day off, running their business was challenging. Richael knew that her path would be different because she wanted more stability in her career. But things didn’t work out quite as she expected. 

Today, Richael is the co-founder and CEO of Mammoth Trading, a company that specializes in water management policy and the design and operation of customized algorithmic, or “smart,” water markets. Started in 2014, the company developed and launched the first active smart markets for groundwater and surface water in the United States. When asked how she ended up becoming an entrepreneur, Richael says, “I was in the right place, at the right time. I found something that I was incredibly passionate about, something that I was good at, and something that I enjoyed.”  

Richael began laying the groundwork to be “at the right place, at the right time” as a teenager. Through College of San Mateo’s Concurrent Enrollment Program, she began taking classes at the age of 14. As she transitioned into a becoming a full-time CSM student, she began exploring opportunities outside of the classroom, primarily in student leadership. 

In 2006, she was elected student trustee for the San Mateo County Community College District Board of Trustees. During her two-year term, she represented over 24,000 students across three colleges, bringing their collective voices to the governing board of the District. Being able to make an impact on students’ lives while developing her communication and leadership skills led Richael to her next step as president of the Associated Students of CSM. Thereafter, she became the president of the Student Senate for California Community Colleges, which represents the state’s 2.8 million community college students.  

Reflecting on Richael’s time at CSM, Fauzi Hamadeh, CSM staff member and student government advisor, says, “Richael’s inquisitive nature, her bravery in asking tough questions, and her desire to find solutions that worked for everyone were hallmarks of her time at CSM.” 

In her final year at CSM, Richael was honored with the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Transfer Scholarship for her student leadership contributions and academic achievement.  This coveted, generous award provided Richael the financial assistance and freedom to pursue the major of her choice at the university of her choice. 

In 2009, she transferred to University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she earned a B.S. degree in civil and environmental engineering, an M.S. in agricultural and applied economics, and an M.S. in environmental engineering. It was during this time that Richael applied the same drive and passion that helped her find success in student leadership to water issues. Through internships and graduate research projects, Richael worked on water projects for various organizations throughout the United States and Mexico. 

And this is where it all came together: a great education, relevant field experience, and well-honed leadership skills. From these, Richael developed the knowledge, confidence, and passion to begin working on large-scale issues like water scarcity. She founded Mammoth Trading to bring a capitalistic solution to an environmental problem. She says, “We demonstrate that it is possible to grow business profits today while sustaining resources for future generations. We hope to redefine environmental stewardship as being complementary—not in conflict—with growing local economies, and we use the power of markets to do so.” 

Her efforts were soon noticed at the highest levels of government. In March, 2016, Richael was one of only 150 people invited to attend the first-ever White House Water Summit as part of World Water Day where she spoke to a captive audience about water markets. 

Looking back, Richael credits CSM with providing her a solid academic foundation and the freedom to pursue opportunities that helped her grow as a leader. “The professors and mentors I had at CSM were among the best I’ve ever had. They became lifelong friends, as did many of my peers in student government. I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am if it hadn’t been for them or my time at CSM.” She also gives the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation credit for allowing her to pursue her dreams. Instead of worrying about student loan debt, Richael was able to put her energy and resources into building a business that is on the way to changing the world for the better. 

To learn more about Richael and her business in an interactive video format, visit jkcf.org/entrepreneurs.