- Oct 23, 2017
Finishing an MBA program calls for celebration. Some new grads take a vacation to unwind and de-stress. Others jump right back into work, eager to show what they’ve learned.
Alex Cazi, EMBA ’17, got on a bike instead.
After completing Ivey’s Executive MBA program, Cazi biked 2,500 km – from his hometown of Regina, Saskatchewan to Los Angeles, California – to raise money and awareness for #SickNotWeak, an organization that strives to help people understand that mental illness is an illness, not a weakness. The journey took him three weeks to complete.
He asked followers, friends, and family to donate a cent for every kilometer he biked ($25) with the goal of raising $60,000. But his primary goal, he said, was to raise awareness for the charity.
During the Executive MBA program, Cazi’s classmate Brent Hughes introduced him to the #SickNotWeak Foundation. As Cazi learned more, he developed a strong connection to it.
“It was something I could relate with,” Cazi said. “That’s how it started. We had a charity committee raising money for different organizations, which included #SickNotWeak, but I wanted to do something more.”
The EMBA was a great opportunity for self-reflection, Cazi said – from the first residence week to the very last class. If he hadn’t completed his EMBA, Cazi didn’t know if he would have done the bike trip.
“It’s a journey. It’s a great journey,” he said. “Everyone who goes through the Ivey or the EMBA experience comes out a different person.”
Keeping the pedals moving
Despite encountering sweltering heat, steep hills, difficult winds, and rough nights, Cazi never thought of quitting. He was committed to the cause, and credits a strong support network for helping him through tough times.
“I knew there were people supporting me and that was important,” he said. “After eight or 10 hours biking in one day, getting a message asking how the ride was going helped. Those small instances made the difference.”
For Cazi, a highlight of the three-week journey was meeting people along the way.
“People were curious about what I was doing,” Cazi said. “The most important thing was being able to talk about it and connecting with people who had experienced anxiety and depression. Once you start talking about it, people open up about themselves and their situation.”
What’s next for Cazi? He’s looking forward to spending some time with his family in Regina before exploring new job opportunities. He’s also discovered a strong biking community from his trip, and he hopes to become more involved with it down the road.