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From Lab Notes to Recipe Cards: A UNBC Ph.D. Student starting her side hustle as a Baker in

By Bruce Danesh

Introduction and Background:
This is about Sorour. A UNBC PhD candidate majorig in Natural Resources and Environmental Scienecs (NRES) now having her side bakery business named Pastry Explorer offering a variety of flavors from all over the world! I was interested to know more about her and what made her to do this! I was eager to find out about Sorour and how did she end up doing this, with everything going on as a PhD student!

I kind of started baking when I was four years old, helping my aunt make cakes. Her house always smelled like a bakery. I found myself very passionate about mixing different ingredients and creating new flavours so, I tried to make cakes and cookies without following any particular recipe! Nobody knows how many cakes I burnt or recipes I messed up. I used to hide them from everyone. As I grew I gradually felt I was really good at this so I started studying the science behind baking which was all about fresh ingredients and chemistry! By the age of 17 I used to bake my family and friends birthday cakes. The more I did this, the more I got nice feedback and appreciation from them which kind of motivated me to do it more and do it better!

So Who is Sorour?
Sorour is a baker/scholar now?! How did this happen?
I was always good at science so I went to university to study civil engineering without even thinking of getting a PhD! But it was just a blink of an eye that I found myself studying PhD in Environmental Engineering with a focus on water resources. I have always been looking for a very particular career which allows me to become an effective citizen and improve people’s lives! Perhaps, this attitude somehow stopped me from being a full-time baker. I was wrong though. Although big decisions will lead to major changes, these are the small things that bring real joy to our lives. Testing a new flavour in a local market, celebrating a birthday with the best cake ever, seeing my friends or customers enjoying every bite of my pastries and constantly telling me how delicious they are just made me stronger in doing what I do now in Pasrty Explorer. And Believe me, there was a lot in common between engineering and baking after all! Both follow specific instructions to create something perfect!

What motivated you to pursue a side hustle as a baker,
What persuades me the most is the amount of support and companionship I get from my family and friends to keep up the good work. Another big help is my husband taking photos of everything I make. He is a photographer in his free time and we made it a good team. I can say, one way or another you do it for yourself, but the more encouragement you get, the more determined you become to keep going.

How do you envision it fitting into your long-term goals? Where do you see your baking side hustle in the next few years, especially considering the completion of your Ph.D. studies? Are there specific milestones or achievements you’re aiming for in both your academic and entrepreneurial pursuits?
Honestly, I am not sure! I used to do it as a part-time activity in my home country, Iran, for a couple of months but I was swamped with work and getting ready for the huge thing, moving to Canada. Right now, I just want to follow my heart, balance my life, and create a safe mental space for myself to fly to when I feel buried in the complexity of research and PhD work.
But I want to expand the business in the future and provide job opportunities to people who would like to start similar journeys, helping them to reach their dreams, and of course, bringing new flavours to Prince George.

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