Long-time fitness fanatic Safia Suleman hoped to earn some pocket money during her undergraduate studies by teaching fitness classes. She soon realized, however, that the Beedie School of Business offered a variety of social initiatives through which she could use her passion for health and fitness to benefit the less fortunate.
Upon arriving at Beedie, Safia became involved with ENACTUS SFU, the Simon Fraser University chapter of the global student organization that addresses social, environmental, and economics needs in the community.
After initially presenting the Banner Bags project – which turns unused banners into colourful reusable bags – she became project manager for Hunger Actions, a health and wellness program for low-income families that provides budget and meal planning guidelines.
Starting as a nutritional researcher and presenter teaching single mothers how to lead a healthy lifestyle on a budget, Safia realized that she could incorporate a fitness regime into the program. She began teaching the participants how to carry out home workouts without impinging on their daily routine.
“I decided to focus on holistic fitness – workouts the mothers could do at home quickly using bodyweight exercises and random household goods for props,” says Safia. “We encouraged them to continue their fitness regime by introducing different challenges. They all had a lot of fun doing it, and soon started to feel healthier and stronger.”
A big hit with the participants, the program proved to be a critical success as well – under Safia’s management, the team won first place at the 2013 Capital One Financial Education Challenge at the Enactus Canada Regional Exposition, and placed second at the National Exposition.
Aside from her involvement with ENACTUS, Safia also completed a co-op position carrying out audits with KPMG. The experience gained from the role, as well as seeing how a global firm operates, has proven invaluable to her professional development.
“Working in a co-op position really complements the theory you learn in class by immersing you in the real world,” she says. “Co-op is such a great experience because it blends the best of both worlds – theory and practice. It has been a steep learning curve but I loved every minute of it.”
She further enhanced her Beedie experience through case competitions – representing Beedie at the Georgetown case competition in Washington DC, where she competed against students from schools from across the globe – and by ensuring that newer Beedie students benefit from her experiences, acting as a mentor in the Beedie FROSH program.
“The best thing about the Beedie School of Business is that it’s not just an education – it’s an experience,” says Safia. “It has been the most well-rounded university experience I could expect, and I would encourage anyone to try to bring their passion into university life. I have enjoyed it so much that I don’t even consider it work.”
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