Meet Caeden Greene

How one student connects mechanics, meat, and mentorship.

May 2024

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Caeden Greene

Photography by Toni Bird

Caeden Greene enjoyed free rein as a kid growing up in Chapel Hill, N.C. He would explore the woods behind his house or help out a neighbor who worked on old cars in the cul-de-sac. By age 14, he’d already bought his first car—albeit one without an engine. After soccer practice, he’d tinker late into the night, trying to understand how things worked beneath the hood.

Now a co-terminal junior and master’s student in mechanical engineering, Greene has brought his childhood passions into more than his major. He’s spent the past four summers working as a wildland firefighter in the western United States, and he co-captains Stanford’s club lacrosse team. He also builds and drives race cars for the Stanford Highly Incompetent Team of Racing, a group he co-founded that has an obvious acronym and that modifies cheap cars for endurance racing.

But he’s also found purpose in slower pursuits. He opted to live in a campus co-op, Hammarskjöld, and he co-founded Street Meat, a catering service that offers hot food at student events. “Cooking is a big reason why I joined the co-op,” says Greene. “It’s meditative, chopping vegetables for 50 people. It allows you to explore and create, and I love serving people.” 

Greene in front of a red sports car

“If I got a 4.0 at Stanford, I wouldn’t have done it right. You’ll miss out on everything else that makes Stanford so special.”

When I worked as a firefighter, fire didn’t scare me. I’ve been in a house that’s burning down—there were tendrils of flame across the ceiling—but that fear just didn’t register. The fear of walking into a room with 100 people that I don’t know is scarier than walking into a room that is on fire. 

We’ve raced four times now. After the second car race, a couple of people came up to me and said, ‘Thank you for taking the time to teach us and make us feel included in the process.’ They didn’t know a lot about working on cars but still said this has been one of the best things they’ve ever done at Stanford. Forget the fact that we successfully built and raced a car, or that we won awards. The most meaningful part of the whole experience was people coming up to me and saying: ‘I felt included, I learned a lot, thanks for taking the time to teach me.’

“The best part about Hammarskjöld is you’re living in a house [as] a family. When you walk in, it’s not a ‘How are you?’ Instead, it’s ‘How was your midterm? Did you hear back about your Fulbright scholarship?’ It feels like a genuine space of belonging, like a home.

“The impetus behind Street Meat was: Who hasn’t had the idea to serve food on the Row? It started out as us buying a flat-top grill and going out on the road, cooking food—anything from hot dogs with fajita onions and peppers to Indian street food, naan tacos with rice and fresh curries with pickled veggies on top. The team of us is so collectively bought into the same goal—building [the business] and working on it together. It’s so fun.

“My dream is to go to Officer Candidate School and become a naval aviator. There’s some sense of service—that I want to give. [It’s] a noble cause for securing independence and freedom. It’s an adventure. Another big part for me is the leadership.”

Annie C. Reller, ’24, is an editorial intern at Stanford. Email her at

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