Every FRN student leader has something that inspires them to fight waste and feed people. Sometimes, it’s a passion to feed their community or a personal connection to serving those around them. Zeel Vora, president of the University of Houston chapter, is no exception. Zeel is also a Regional Outreach Coordinator and will be hosting a summit in Houston, TX. Want connect with Zeel about her story or summit? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get you connected! Read below to hear Zeel’s inspiring story about her passion for FRN:
Hi fellow FRNds! I’m Zeel, like banana peel with a “Z”, from the University of Houston! I’m currently pursuing a degree in Public Health with a minor in Biology, and (hopefully) graduating in May 2018. I am taking a year off after graduation to work and “adult” for a little while, and then applying to law school! In the past few years, outside of FRN, I’ve been involved in Student Government, my University’s Housing department, and volunteering at Houston’s animal shelter and children’s hospital!
My mom passed away six weeks into my first year of college. For a long time, I was lost and didn’t know how to cope. I had never dealt with loss before and I had lost my motivation completely. On February 6, 2015, my friend Yash asked me if I would drive him to Panera Bread to do a recovery (one of the first official recoveries by UHouston’s FRN chapter!). I agreed, not caring too much about the organization but more because I was doing a favor for a friend. When we arrived at the donation site to drop off about 100lbs of bread and pastries, I noticed a woman holding a baby with a young child by her side. The child came up to me and asked me if he could have a cookie, and was elated when I let him choose between chocolate chip and M&M.
I realized then that we were at an 24/7 emergency shelter for women to come with their children if they need to escape a dangerous situation. This young child had probably witnessed things far more horrible than I could imagine, yet it only took a cookie to bring a smile on his face, and I was hooked. On the drive back to campus, I asked Yash if he was looking to bring in more officers, and the rest is history. FRN became a sort of escape for me, as I was doing something that not only helped others, but helped me feel proud of myself again. I knew that my mom would have been proud of me too.
I learned more and more about the historically underserved community my university is located in, and about the implications of food waste. FRN quickly became a cause I dedicated all of my time to. Two years later, time came for Yash to graduate and for someone new to become president of the chapter. FRN had already taught me so much about what it meant to be a student leader, and I decided that there was nothing I wanted more than to spend my senior year leading the wonderful group of people that currently make up the UH chapter. I ran for president, luckily uncontested, and while it has been busy and stressful at times, I wouldn’t change it for the world.