By Brad Sugar ’17
Executive MBA students from the EMP 104 cohort (class of 2017) have begun volunteering at Campus Kitchens, a non-for-profit which packages cafeteria food from college campuses for those in need.
Aside from its academics, Kellogg is known for its far-reaching and impactful network of alumni around the globe.
Ask any applicant or current student, and they’ll likely tell you that Kellogg’s appeal goes way beyond the classroom and degree; getting those three little letters at the end of your name from Northwestern’s school of business also means that you’re part of an elite group of individuals who are changing the world in multiple industries and markets. Being accepted into a Kellogg program is simultaneously an honor and a responsibility to uphold the institution’s stellar reputation.
For the 66 individuals in the EMP 104 cohort of the Executive MBA Program (graduating June 2017), it was clear from the very beginning that it was important to figure out positive ways to add to this reputation and leave a legacy for future classes. The problem was with the hefty responsibilities of classwork alongside full time senior-level positions — not to mention familial and community obligations — time to make any kind of meaningful impact together was at a premium.
While full-time and part-time students may have multiple opportunities to get together during the week or weekend, EMBA students do not have such a luxury. Evanston EMBA students arrive from across the country to the Allen Center campus on alternating Fridays, with classes and various group work starting at 1 p.m. and ending Saturday at 6 p.m. This leaves barely enough time for socialization, let alone time to contribute to Kellogg and the Evanston community in positive ways.
Yet, soon after EMP 104’s inaugural class weekend in August, a social impact committee was formed and over half of the class signed up to participate in its activities. As a lifetime non-profit professional who lives not too far from campus in Evanston, I was aware of multiple volunteer opportunities in the area. The challenge was finding one that worked with our busy alternating weekend schedules.
Thankfully, I recalled a truly meaningful volunteer experience with my own children several months ago through the Northwestern University branch of Campus Kitchens, where we packaged unused university cafeteria food and delivered it to those who were in-need. I reached out to Campus Kitchens about a possible venture with EMP 104; they were thrilled to hear from us and agreed to set up a special bi-weekly volunteer opportunity for every Friday night when the group was on campus together. We would be spending over an hour as a group in a campus cafeteria making sandwiches and packaging unused, sealed food to Evanston’s homeless and hungry.
Reaction to this opportunity was unanimously positive, as our first weekend “sold out” of volunteer slots soon after announcing it. On Friday, February 19th, 12 members of cohort EMP 104 began what we hope will be an ongoing tradition in the Executive MBA program of volunteering with Campus Kitchens for years to come. The group quickly made over three hundred assorted sandwiches in our launch evening, and had a fantastic time in the process. Since that evening, our cohort has packaged and delivered over a thousand sandwiches with Campus Kitchens.
EMP 104 volunteers make sandwiches for the homeless and hungry — with a smile.
Now that this opportunity has begun and is scheduled for the next several months out, we will continue to add other ways to impact the community in the limited time we have on campus, such as offering free business consulting to local non-profits. We are hopeful that these small acts of volunteerism can continue to add to a long list of positive things that Kellogg and its current and former students have accomplished and brought to communities across the globe.
Brad Sugar is a Senior Development Executive for The American Friends of the Hebrew University (AFHU). He has twelve years of executive experience in both national and international educational and community agencies.