University students juggle business and school life
First-year UBC students manage non-profit with 100 volunteers
Reported by Chelsea Liu
Students managing a non-profit organization that advocates for responsible food waste say balancing school and work can be stressful.
Kitchen on a Mission president Ishmam Bhuiyan, and vice-president Stephanie Siu took on the executive management positions after the founder went to college in the U.S.
The two, who are now first year UBC students, but have been involved with KOM since high school, said it’s been tough balancing two roles at once.
Bhuiyan said despite balancing full-time school and work, his passion for the cause is worth the struggle.
“It’s been harder than I thought and it’s gotten progressively harder,” Bhuiyan said.
With a core team of 20 and a volunteer team of around 100, KOM is a non-profit organization jointly managed by Bhuiyan and Siu.
KOM works to bridge the gap between resource divisions, said Bhuiyan.
This means that the company works with local businesses, shelters and organizations on gathering food and hygiene supplies that would otherwise be thrown out.
The supplies are distributed to local shelters for those in need.
“We are conscious that [the] work we’re doing is normalizing the fact that we don’t have equitable food systems,” Bhuiyan said.
Siu, who oversees volunteer recruitment and communicates with local businesses and shelters for supplies, said her job is to make sure everything runs smoothly for the organization.
Due to her leadership role within KOM, Siu maintains regular contact with the younger executives, which she said is hard to maintain contact while she’s in class.
“If there is a new problem, they come to me. I come up with solution(s). I get involved quite often,” Siu said.
Bhuiyan credits the success of KOM to its volunteers. “It’s a team effort.”
Sir Winston Churchill Grade 11 student Zainab Sayedain, the volunteer coordinator for the Churchill branch, said people put in the time because they are passionate about the cause.
“I would never go back or sacrifice any of it because it’s what I truly believe in,” Sayedain said.