Katja Sluga receives 2020 Outstanding Leader in the Faculty of Arts award

Katja Sluga received the Outstanding Leader in the Faculty of Arts award for her considerable dedication to creating development opportunities for students.

Hometown: Ljubljana, Slovenia

Program of Study: International Relations

UBC Affiliations: International Relations Students’ Association

UBC Awards: Karen McKellin International Leader of Tomorrow ScholarAnn Liisa McCutcheon Memorial Award

How can we connect with you? You can find me on LinkedIn

Why did you choose your academic program of study?

I was always interested in relationships between states. Coming from a really small country, I am aware that ties between global actors are of great importance. No one can be autocratic in this age and I found it relevant to understand the global dependence dynamics from a North American perspective, so International Relations was an obvious choice for me.

What are some of the meaningful experiences you’ve had at UBC?

Organizing conferences! I am really interested in the EU-Canada relationship and I was fortunate enough to be able to initiate three different events addressing this topic: “Model European Union conference,” “30 Years of Transition: The Current State of Eastern European Countries,” and “Next Steps in the Trans-Atlantic Relationship.” I made so many connections with faculty and beyond, learnt a lot about logistics and event planning, as well as the topics themselves. It would not be possible to do so without endless support from the Faculty of Arts.

Katja at the Model European Union conference

What’s an important life lesson that your involvement activities have taught you?

I feel like I have truly grown up at UBC and with my role at IRSA, so I would say many things:

  • Cold emailing gets you far
  • Always proofread your emails before sending them, and name tags before printing (especially pay attention to each person’s title)
  • Every budget you make is an underestimation
  • Working with your friends is difficult
  • Being constantly around people who are smarter than you is scary, but absolutely necessary

You recently received a 2019 Outstanding Leader Award. What does it mean to be a great Arts student leader?

For me, a good leader is, first and foremost, humble at all times. A student leader must understand their role is to serve the student community. To recognize what kind of events or platforms are missing and create them. To connect students to resources and people who might benefit them and make learning and growing more accessible. The great privilege of a student leader is that they can understand their target group and respond to the needs of the community. I am absolutely still working on all of this.

What are the top three things that every Arts student should try before they graduate?

  1. Take any class on migration.
  2. Be open to change where you stand on certain issues.
  3. Write a paper that you are truly proud of and confident in.
  4. Convince your grandparents that you are not actually studying painting and sculpting. My biggest personal challenge, still not sure if I succeeded.
  5. Attend an IRSA event (shameless promotion!)
  6. Be proud that you are in Arts.

(Oops, that was six)

Katja was highly involved in thee International Relations Student Association, where she created a vibrant platform for Arts students to meet, connect, and exchange ideas.

If you had the chance to restart your UBC experience, what would you do differently?

I would spend more time researching professors and courses I am interested in and ask upper-years for recommendations before I register in a course. Also, I would not leave my science requirement until my last semester at UBC, and I would not choose MATH 105 to fulfill that requirement. What was I thinking? Also, I wish I have would fallen in love with IRSA even earlier!

What’s next for you?

I have to make some money for graduate school, learn French and re-integrate into my home society for a year or two, then complete a masters in European Affairs and then hopefully work for the European Union. I know I will take UBC with me wherever I go.