And the ‘Unpark Yourself’ Challenge Winner Is …

Employee and two graduate students win an ELF after three tie for top spot

Graduate student Isaac Hacerola poses for a photo in an ELF, a bike-electric hybrid that will be awarded to him and two others as the grand prize in Duke's Unpark Yourself Challenge. Photo courtesy of Isaac Hacerola.
Graduate student Isaac Hacerola poses for a photo in an ELF, a bike-electric hybrid that will be awarded to him and two others as the grand prize in Duke's Unpark Yourself Challenge. Photo courtesy of Isaac Hacerola.

Duke’s Unpark Yourself Challenge will be moving from Durham to Chicago this spring.

Residents of the Windy City will soon catch glimpses of a white bike-electric vehicle sporting Duke blue and Sustainable Duke’s “Green Devil” as Isaac Hacerola slips in and out of lanes on his ELF, a grand prize from Unpark Yourself.

With the sustainable commuting contest ending Sunday, April 12, Hacerola was named a winner on Monday after a tie with a graduate student and employee. Hacerola will get behind the wheel of his new transportation this week. Hacerola, a graduate student at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, is set to graduate in May and move to Chicago shortly after. In the meantime, he’ll ride his new ELF around his home in Chapel Hill.

“Chicago will be a great place to have the ELF because it’s flat and parking is really expensive,” said Hacerola, team captain of “Always ReMEM/MBA.” “My current car is on its way out, too, so maybe this will delay my need to purchase another one.”

In winning the Unpark Yourself Challenge, Hacerola accumulated points by answering trivia questions, staying active on social media and taking on challenges that encouraged sustainable behavior like riding a bike or bus to work. He tallied 5,450 points – the maximum allowed – and tied with graduate student Gabriel Yapuncich and Casey Harrison, a clinical nurse at Duke Hospital.

A random drawing between the three who were tied was held Monday, and Hacerola was the winner of that drawing. However, during a surprise announcement at the 2015 Sustainability Awards on Wednesday, Executive Vice President Tallman Trask shared news that the other two top performers - Yapuncich and Harrison - would also receive an ELF as grand prize winners.

“One thing I realized through the Unpark Yourself Challenge is a reminder to slow down because you can learn how to plan and use public transportation, but also the culture of the city you’re in,” said Harrison, a registered nurse at Duke Hospital who utilized bus routes on campus, with the Bull City Connector and Triangle Transit. “You can even meet a lot of people and it’s a really neat way to learn more about your city.”

In addition to the top prizes, the following prizes were awarded by Sustainable Duke:

  • DeAnna Hall, a IT analyst with the Office of Information Technology and member of the team “UnPark Yo Self,” will get an Apple Watch as the top social media participant.  A compilation of social media posts can be found here.
  • “Duke MSc Global Health 2015,” a team comprised of 16 graduate students from the Duke Global Health Institute, scored the highest team points with 59,350 and won an ice cream party at Durham’s Parlour.

“There are so many modes of transportation and different ways to be sustainable at Duke, you don’t always realize what’s available,” said Ryan Lion, team captain for Duke MSc Global Health 2015. “Some on our team had only used Duke buses, so it was fun to get a GoPass and we all used the DATA transit buses for the first time.”

Lion said his team stayed atop the leaderboard by sending out weekly emails and checking in to make sure teammates completed challenges. In addition to riding the bus together, members also teleconferenced instead of driving to campus for meetings and worked on transportation-related haikus to share on social media. 

“It was a fun, morale-building program to come together for a challenge about a concept that’s meaningful to us,” Lion said.

In addition to their prizes, the Unpark Yourself winners will also be recognized this week at Duke’s annual Sustainability Awards. Nearly 250 participants who earned at least 2,000 points during the program and will receive an Unpark Yourself drawstring backpack.