He spent only one year at Lindisfarne College but Mustafa Sheikh believes that defining spell as a boarder at the Hastings establishment is helping him mould a constitution that will help impoverished communities in New Zealand.
Sheikh has been building a rapport with former All Blacks Keven Mealamu and Nehe Milner-Skudder to help drive the Bread Charity Foundation in Auckland in a bid to reach out to communities such as the East Coast and Hawke's Bay.
"Keven Mealamu is a real good friend and a massive help to the charity," says the 25-year-old who was in the same class as All Blacks bolter George Bridge, a fellow Gisborne boarder.
Mindful the Farne has rolled out other pedigree sportsmen — such as former ABs Israel Dagg, Taine Randell , and Maori All Black Gordon Falcon — he remains hopeful winger Bridge will add value to the charitable cause.
"I think he'll be really keen if he knew about it," says Sheikh whose annual Bread Charity Supercar Rally is on schedule at Aotea Centre, along Queen's St, from 10am on Saturday, February 15. Public entry is free although people are encouraged to make a gold coin donation while owner/drivers donate to register their vehicles around the $400 mark.
"Nehe and I were at East Coast together," he says, renewing his acquaintance with the former All Black winger. "He's like a brother figure to me and I look up to him for what he's done."
Online fitness instructor Josef Rakich also is an ambassador for the charity.
Lindisfarne College, the bloke who is known as "Mussie" declares, gave him life skills to put his privileged life in perspective with the "real world".
"It made me more focused," he says of a discipline instilled at the integrated boys' school.
"Coming from Gisborne we have no idea about academic studies."
For him, symbolically, that came with the No 1s of the blazer, tie, cap and jacket uniform every Monday.
"It gave me a sense of discipline for someone coming from Gisborne — a set structure like that," Sheikh explains. "You had to present yourself in a certain manner so it's the whole structural approach to be focused."
His father, Nassar Sheikh, is a general practitioner, carrying on a proud tradition his grandfather started in Pakistan.
Mustafa Sheikh's sister, Sara Sheik, 24, also is a GP at North Shore Hospital. Their paternal uncles and aunties went down that path, too. His mother, Mawash Sheikh, is an early childhood teacher.
He laughs when asked if he has underachieved in breaking from tradition to work for V3, a company that provides the A to Z in corporate event services.
"I've always had this hustler spirit in me," says Sheikh whose entrepreneurial nous was evident when he sold hats bought from China and sold at $13 for $30 each.
"Why would I spend my life doing something I'm not passionate about just for the sake of having a title even though they do amazing work in the community.
He doesn't think becoming a businessman is a profession but more a mind set, an attribute he's blessed with.
Getting swept away in a philanthropic wave is something that surfaced when he moved to Auckland in 2013.
"I've always been an advocate of giving back," says the bloke who in his first year of pursuing bachelor of science (with honours) at Auckland University he had started volunteering at Starship Children's Hospital, spending time with patients in the lounge.
"I suppose the whole purpose was to make them feel better wile they were in hospital, spending time playing X-Box with them and simply having conversations with them."
The Child Cancer Foundation is a charity he has donated to regularly.
It's during his time in the Big Smoke when it dawned on him what he had encountered in Gisborne was what he had become accustomed to.
The found the desire to give back to Gisborne, a city that is beautiful but which has its share of adversity , overwhelming.
"I've seen a lot there growing up, first hand. I realised how bad we had it in East Coast," Sheikh says. "As soon as I stepped out I thought, 'Man, we have some serious inequalities in our community'."
It harks back to the days of PE classes at schools where they did cross-country training bare foot on the streets.
"We just thought that's how life was and that's what reality was but in coming to Auckland you realise what was normal is actually an imbalance in our society."
In hindsight, the struggles he saw his friends and their families go through puts life in perspective. Kids turned up to school with just an orange in their lunch box.
"At the time I thought nothing of it," he says, recalling how class mates wore damp shirts because clothes driers weren't an option in the rainy season.
"All these little things — which I guess we were naive growing up to — I thought shouldn't be like that and I should make a difference."
His parents emigrated from Pakistan to London, where he was born. They moved to Gisborne when he was 5.
The Bread charity is nearing its third birthday. The name is symbolic as staple food of many ancient civilisations, he says. It's also an acronym for "BRave", "EAger" and "Determined".
The drive isn't just a straightforward initiative to muster money but comes on the foundation of laborious research on what will add value to a youngster's life in six months of interaction.
"We're developing a metric system which can be applied to various cities," Sheikh says, revealing that's what Milner-Skudder did when he recently visited schools in Ruatoria and Gisborne.
A fortnight ago the charity worked in tandem with the police to establish a youth centre that has close to $1 million earmarked for it by the end of next year. He says the funds will come via grants and the police are sold on the concept.
"The funding isn't that much of a concern — I believe we'll get that pretty easily — but it's all about developing a centre and a procedure that helps children."
Writing blank cheques or tapping someone on the shoulder for handouts isn't his or the charity's preoccupation. The burning desire is how to, randomly, make the biggest lasting impact on communities.
Sheikh says it's not just about influencing a life or two for the better but communal prosperity.
It's using donations to engender the intangible values to inspire future generations.
"It's about making sure they have the best possible opportunities to realise how amazing they are."
People, he reckons, see New Zealand as a developed nation and, to some extent, don't want to believe there are pockets of impoverished sectors.
"I went to Auckland with police to give out gift packs and presents to children who had been arrested or were in house arrests and stuff like that."
Half the houses they had visited bore scars of forcible entry on the front doors — a consequence of police raids.
"Apart from that, there are a lot of health conditions we shouldn't see in a developed country, because of overcrowding."
The supercar rally came to the fore when he as desperate to raise money but faced the challenge of how he was going to tread the "most passive marketing" path where a charity didn't have to invest directly in.
"I came up with the idea that if we put our stickers on a bunch of Lamborghinis and Ferraris on our website ... it would drive our donations."
Sheikh says a major issue facing most charities is how to keep regular donations trickling in so his initiative is to forecast it.
"We get a police escort down Queen St with Lamborghinis , Ferraris and McLarens," he says.
A few months ago a friend took his $1 million Lamborghini Aventador SVJ on visits to low-decile schools in Auckland.
"What we're mentoring on isn't just make-believe like, 'Yeah, we're bringing you this Lamborghini to show you that what we're telling you is possible'.
"When it's right in front of them it's more convincing so [that they know] we're not just making up things."
That sense of realism, Sheikh says, promotes the innovative thinking of young minds.
"The supercars is all about combining the two ends of the spectrum, I guess, to give back in that way."
Sheikh is mindful there'll be varying opinions on the exercise but for him it's about helping people break the vicious cycle of generational acceptance that life is a rut.
"It's about them not believing in themselves so they don't really see the outside world," he says.
"They get caught up in a community that's almost like a bubble where they just don't believe in themselves so the Lamborghinis is like there's this world out there."
He says it gives the youngsters the opportunity to talk to the car owners to see how they bought their supercars.
"It's kind of a positive thinking and not just a dream.'
Sheikh has a friend in Hawke's Bay who drives an orange Lamborghini race car and believes he would love to help the charity, too.
Dr Hamish Wu, someone he met at university, is a co-founder of the charity. He shares Sheikh's philanthropic drive and is involved with Kidsline, Canteen, MSGA (Medical Students for Global Awareness) and Sash (Students Against Smoking and Health).
"I believe that his medical thinking and what he sees on a daily basis will round off the trust very well," says Sheikh.
The doctor's sister, Crystal Wu — who has a passion for journalism, health and lifestyle — joins them on the Bread trust board and was instrumental in helping build the research template.
Sheikh sees his background as a catalyst to trigger other people to harbour as sense of everyone's responsibility, to some degree, to make a difference.
"If I can do it someone with a different ethnic background can do it," he says.