What do research, climate change, and business all have in common? These are all passions of CB students who have taken their leadership during COVID to the next level. Introducing Mathew, Elizabeth, Olivia, and Hannah. Their skills range from researcher to climate blogger to business owners, respectively, with the common goals of social justice and […]
What do research, climate change, and business all have in common? These are all passions of CB students who have taken their leadership during COVID to the next level.
Introducing Mathew, Elizabeth, Olivia, and Hannah. Their skills range from researcher to climate blogger to business owners, respectively, with the common goals of social justice and spreading positivity within the community.
Mathew Thomas (‘21) is the recent founder of Sacramento for Social Action Research, a student-led research institution that brings awareness to social and economic injustices through local data. UC Berkeley’s “Othering and Belonging Institute”, which collects data on unhoused and low-income populations among other research, specifically inspired Mathew to start one of his own initiatives.
After hours of research and attending several virtual economics classes over lockdown, he feels motivated to tackle Sacramento’s economic inequalities with his team by gathering evidence and presenting their findings in an easy way for anyone to interpret.
“Information about homelessness and low income [populations] is only collected by the government and not widely available for everyone,” he says. “Our goal is to raise awareness. Sacramento isn’t just a center of the problems — we can offer solutions”
Thanks to Valley Vision, a local research group in Sacramento, Mathew learned about what it takes to start a project of this scale. He formed a team of five other researchers to kick off their own individual projects-Mathew’s will focus on understanding the mental health of high schoolers in the Sacramento region during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Valley Vision staff is supporting the team with resources and other helpful tips for conducting such a large-scale project. Building connections in order to start their research was the most difficult part of the process, but Mathew and his team have now hit the ground running with brainstorming and gathering data for their first-ever research projects.
Elizabeth Ajiduah (‘21) is not only a member of the above-mentioned research team, but the founder of her own climate blog, The Green Book. It’s a blog that seeks to talk about the climate crisis from different angles, from culture and science to technology and politics. The Green Book is the best way she can contribute to fighting and understanding what our society can do to alleviate the climate crisis.
“I want to show people that it impacts every sector of their lives so that they’ll be more mobilized to do something about it,” she says. “This is an intersectional issue,” so her blog aims to connect the climate crisis with relevant global events, like racial and economic injustice.
“It affects every aspect of our lives, but it also impacts people differently based on who they are.”
Similar to Mathew, finding people who are committed to the team and provide support has been Elizabeth’s biggest challenge. Her advice to potential student leaders is to “be ready to lose some people, be ready to fail, but most importantly be enthusiastic about what you’re doing.”
Despite some inevitable setbacks that come with founding any initiative, Elizabeth’s blog has been consistently producing interesting and informative content that is easy to understand. She has big dreams for The Green Book and hopes that it is well-established in the future so that others can take over her work when the time comes.
Olivia Chandra (‘21), who is known for her unique talent of putting together delectable and aesthetically pleasing charcuterie boards. Her new business Bites and Boards provides high-quality charcuterie boards to clients for events, gatherings, and even just a fancy midnight snack.
It all started when she put together a board just for fun, but her boss and co-workers at Savvy Coffee House insisted that she turn it into a business.
“I really didn’t have anything to lose,” she said, so she went for it. Her goal for Bites and Boards is to radiate positivity throughout the community and bring a smile to those who eat the delicious charcuterie.
Initially, she encountered some obstacles that come with starting a business.
“When dealing with food, there’s a lot you’re liable for, and there’s a lot to think about.” She underestimated the startup costs and general time commitment that come with starting a business. Not to mention the process of obtaining several licenses, which are necessary to be filed as a legal business under the government.
Olivia has only been the owner of Bites and Boards for a month, but is already contemplating its future. College is drawing near, and she hasn’t decided whether to stay in town and continue the business or move to her dream city of San Diego, meaning putting the business on hold. If she stays in town, Olivia dreams of majoring in entrepreneurship in college and possibly opening a storefront for Bites and Boards when she graduates.
Regardless of the future, she hopes to inspire others who are interested in starting their own business ventures and emphasizes that age should not play a factor.
“I’m 16, and one day I just decided I’d go for it. As long as you have the drive and the focus, you can create something so great that will impact the community.” She praises CB and her co-workers for inspiring her to take such a risk, which ended up being worth it in the end.
Hannah Kaplon (‘18) is a Christian Brothers alumna who recently started a bagel business in conjunction with her four roommates. Momo’s Bagels is based in Durham, North Carolina, where Hannah attends Duke University. Momo is their business mascot and also their pet cat.
Like Bites and Boards, this bagel business was not founded intentionally. Hannah’s friend Gianna would make bagels for her roommates every Sunday, and they’d joke about how she should start a business. This soon turned into a reality. Now every week, Hannah and her roommates make 100 bagels for hungry customers craving a warm, Sunday morning treat. Their flavors range from chocolate chip to cinnamon sugar, and based on reviews, they do not disappoint.
Not only are the roommates making delicious bagels for their school community, but their proceeds benefit a good cause. 20% of funds are donated to a new non-profit every week, including Duke Mutual Aid, a network that provides financial assistance to Durham residents affected by COVID-19. Part of their mission statement says: “We love spending time with each other, we love experimenting in the kitchen, and most of all, we love supporting local causes. That’s how we knew Momo’s Bagels — a project that allows us to do all of these things — was the perfect opportunity.”
It’s no surprise that Christian Brothers students, including our alumni, are pursuing their passions at such young ages. The school motto “enter to learn, leave to serve” does not limit students to the impact they can have starting now, and follows them to and beyond college. Despite being so young, our past and current Falcons have found ways to do what they love and make a difference while doing it, and that’s the true Christian Brothers experience.