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Maikel Mikaiel

Mikaiel assisted the Big Orange Pantry by optimizing its supply chain to deliver emergency food assistance to students, faculty and staff.

- Student

Going into his senior year as a supply chain management major in the Haslam College of Business, Maikel Mikaiel was looking for a way to make a difference. Through the newly formed Big Orange Pantry, he found an opportunity to make an impact using his supply chain management knowledge.

The Big Orange Pantry provides emergency food assistance for students, faculty and staff attending or employed by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The UT initiative aims to address a growing concern in public higher education that relates to meeting students’ basic needs, including food and housing insecurities.

“One in three students experience food insecurity,” says Mikaiel. “Working with the Big Orange Pantry allowed me to serve others and make an impact at UT.”

Mikaiel joined the Big Orange pantry as the program’s supply chain intern. He assisted with the pantry’s opening and plan for its supply chain. When the pantry opened in November 2020, he led daily operations, managed inventory, fulfilled client orders and continually updated its order form.

While Mikaiel worked to assist his fellow students, he gained a unique experience.

“I had a couple of corporate supply chain internships, but I wanted to gain a different type of learning opportunity,” Mikaiel says. “Working at the Big Orange Pantry allowed me to experience a small-scale supply chain from a nonprofit and humanitarian perspective.”

Mikaiel is proud of his role in opening the Big Orange Pantry and enjoyed bringing his supply chain knowledge to the group.

“We were all from different backgrounds and areas of study,” says Mikaiel. “It was a very diverse group of people who came together to help improve food insecurity on campus, and it was a pleasure to regularly interact and learn from them.”

Mikaiel takes these lessons and those he learned as a Greg & Lisa Smith Global Leadership Scholar with him upon graduating.

“Through honors classes, international experiences and professional development events, I was able to improve my skill set, grow a global mindset and, most importantly, make lifelong friends,” Mikaiel says.

After graduation, Mikaiel is working at Johnson & Johnson in the Global Operations Leadership Development (GOLD) Program, a two-and-a-half-year supply chain rotational program, consisting of three assignments across J&J sectors and U.S. locations. His first rotational assignment will be as a collaborative planning, forecasting and replenishment analyst in Minneapolis, MN.

As he leaves UT, he offers to future students the advice that he followed – the mindset that led him to his unique experience through the Big Orange Pantry.

“College is a once in a lifetime opportunity to develop academically, personally and professionally,” says Mikaiel. “Join organizations that will allow you to have diverse experiences and grow into a well-rounded person.”