Recognizing Graduating Student Leaders in the Class of 2021



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Despite all the challenges, disruption, and uncertainty that this year could throw at us, Arts students have demonstrated their resilience, their eagerness to improve the UBC experience, and have gone above and beyond to continue building communities in Arts and around the world. Among over 100 nominations received for this year’s Dean’s Reception for Graduating Student Leaders, we are thrilled to celebrate 59 students who have enthusiastically seized the diverse opportunities that UBC has to offer.

This year, our student leaders represent 17 different majors within the field of Arts, ranging from Asian Studies to Speech Sciences, Social Work to Geography, and Psychology to Visual Arts. They held senior positions in student associations like the UBC Alma Mater Society, the Arts Undergraduate Society, the Thunderbird Sports Club, the Black Student Union, and departmental student associations. They led student-directed seminars, hosted conferences, started new initiatives, and have demonstrated service leadership through positions with Orientations, Residence Life, Collegia, Peer Programs and so much more!

Meet these exceptional leaders of the class of 2021 below.


Award Winners

Outstanding Student Leaders in the Faculty of Arts

  • Helena Almeida — English Literature & Psychology
  • Anvesha Dwivedi — International Economics

Outstanding Student Leaders in the UBC Community

  • Tiffany Lee — International Relations & Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies
  • Lindsey Palmer — English Literature & Political Science

Outstanding Student Leaders in the UBC Community and Beyond

  • Umaiyahl Nageswaran —History & Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice
  • Danni Olusanya — History & Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice

Award Nominees

We asked award nominees about the experiences that had the greatest impact on them during their undergrad and how they have grown during their time at UBC.

James Albers (they/them) — Visual Art and Art History & Visual Art and Theory

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What student leadership opportunity had the most impact on you during your time at UBC?

All my student leadership opportunities had a profound impact on me during my time at UBC, namely my time as the AHSA Vice President, VASA President, and an Editor for UJAH. But the one role where I had to culminate all the skills I’ve gathered and put them towards good use (both on a professional and personal level) is my current role as the Assistant Manager of the Hatch Art Gallery. Within this role, the Manager and I must collaboratively balance our tasks. Running a student art gallery during a pandemic made us critically re-consider the role of art in these times, all while working to advocate for the future of the space. We encountered what we felt were a lot of institutional barriers and used this as fuel for our own curatorial practices and visions. We hope to solidify the groundwork for an art space that has the best interest of the students in mind.

What did you learn about yourself at UBC?

I learned that I never learn in a bubble. I am greatly inspired by the work of those around me, and only hope to mirror the best of who I surround myself with. It was difficult, but I think I’ve come to a place where I balance expressing my own unique voice — that is the culmination of the people, artists, professors, discourses, and gossips that I partake in. I’ve learned to navigate the complex space of the Institution and know what to hold onto as well as what to leave behind. I am ready to leave a lot behind.


Pedro Ardais Ramos (he/him) — International Economics

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What student leadership opportunity had the most impact on you during your time at UBC?

Joining the Vancouver School of Economics’ Undergraduate Society had the biggest impact on me. I initially joined as a volunteer in the External Relations portfolio and then had the opportunity to serve as the VP Finance for the 2020-21 year. The opportunity to work with such an amazing and diverse team to serve the Economics student body was certainly a unique challenge. I learned that to be a leader, we need to adapt and understand the needs of the people we are serving. It was an amazing and challenging experience to adapt our operations to keep serving our student body during a unique online environment. I’m extremely proud of the work we did and hope to have left my mark on the growth and support of our community.

What did you learn about yourself at UBC?

I learned that stepping out of your comfort zone might be scary at first, but it has lasting effects on the relationships and experiences you build throughout your academic, professional and personal life. It was when I challenged myself, that I learned lessons and created relationships that, hopefully, I will carry the rest of my life.


Colin Bell (he/him) — Opera

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What student leadership opportunity had the most impact on you during your time at UBC?

While at UBC, I encouraged my colleagues to speak out about injustices in and around our campus. I encountered many classmates who felt as though their voices were not being heard and I helped them to discover the correct avenues to properly voice their grievances and get the help they so badly needed. I am not the type of person to stand idly when someone near me is suffering.

What did you learn about yourself at UBC?

While at UBC I learned what my core values are as a person and as a young professional. I learned that I will not jeopardize my integrity for personal gain, even if that means sacrificing future opportunities. What matters to me is that I can be proud of myself and the decisions I have made.


Harsuman Benipal (she/her) — Political Science

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What student leadership opportunity had the most impact on you during your time at UBC?

The leadership role that had the most impact on me was being the President of the UBC Political Science Students’ Association. Being one of the largest departments within the Faculty of Arts, this role entailed arranging events and opportunities for political science students that would contribute to their Arts undergraduate student experience. Through this role, I had the opportunity to work with countless students in AMS clubs, the AUS, professors, alumni, and UBC administrative staff. I was constantly tested with new challenges and was able to apply my previous experiences and skills to my work.

What did you learn about yourself at UBC?

I learned how strong and capable I can be! As a first-year student, there were many changes I was struggling with. However, looking back now, I realize how I was able to shift my energy to the right places and how much my journey as an undergraduate student shifted.


Leah Burnell (she/her) — Social Work

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What student leadership opportunity had the most impact on you during your time at UBC?

The Disability Caucus has been especially impactful for me, where I am one of the founding members and I am a co-chair. My role has included initiation, facilitating meetings, and managing communication within and outwards from the caucus. Our caucus is the largest in the school and is now a place for students to find support in and create change. We have advocated for a variety of changes within the school to make it more accessible. The group has made me feel accepted and understood and we have done a lot of work together. I have made lifelong friends.

What did you learn about yourself at UBC?

I have grown so much as both a learner and as a human being. Biggest takeaway is that I have learned more about who I am, to take better care of myself, and how I can better care for others around me as a result.


Timmy Chang (he/him) — International Relations & Education

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What student leadership opportunity had the most impact on you during your time at UBC?

Being the International Relations Student Associations (IRSA)’s President had the most impact on me. It was rewarding to help my execs spread their various passions for current affairs through our events. Moreover, I enjoyed leading IRSA to become a social network. Through events and collaboration with countless other UBC associations, I was glad to see all execs, including me, build long-lasting friendships with one another, fellow IR students, and other student clubs! Even though COVID-19 made work remote and challenging, I believe my efforts were worthwhile because IRSA still held numerous virtual events and ensured everyone was well connected during these difficult times!

What did you learn about yourself at UBC?

University is not merely a place for academic studies to earn good grades, but a place to discover my passions and to find people with similar interests. I never would have imagined myself ending up doing International Relations, Education, and Business Management all at once (but somehow I did!).


Lidia Cooey-Hurtado (they/them) — English

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What student leadership opportunity had the most impact on you during your time at UBC?

The opportunities that had the most impact on me were the Initiatives at REX and ORICE that allowed me to collaborate with both UBC undergraduates and current PhD candidates on meaningful projects. The people involved in these organizations helped me to build a network of inspiring peers and to better understand the ins-and-outs of academic research.

What did you learn about yourself at UBC?

Take advantage of your dental plan and go to office hours.


Calvin Jacob Cruz (he/him) — Psychology

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What student leadership opportunity had the most impact on you during your time at UBC?

My time at UBC Kababayan Filipino Students’ Association has given me the opportunity to explore and learn more about my culture and what it means to be a Filipino-Canadian. Being a part of this club allowed me to venture out and seek more knowledge, involvement, and empowerment which led me to become involved in two other organizations—Sulong UBC, a Filipino-Canadian student group with a critical analysis of what it means to be Filipinx on campus, in our communities, and in our personal lives; as well as FILCASA or Filipino Canadian Students’ Association, an umbrella community organization comprised of 26 student organizations that strive to define and cultivate a Filipino-Canadian identity on college and university campuses, and complement the social and cultural endeavors of our component organizations by connecting each other with Filipino communities across Canada to provide our members with new resources for personal and professional growth.

What did you learn about yourself at UBC?

I learned that it is okay to not know everything and to trust the process. Most, if not all students, have impressive backgrounds (both academic and extracurricular) when they enter UBC, so the pressure of trying to stand out in a crowd full of outstanding individuals can be nerve-racking. Instead of trying to stand out, I learned to blend in and learn from each of their experiences, which allowed me to explore what it is that I really wanted for myself and what are the things that I’m actually passionate about.


Renzo Gaviola (he/him) — Economics

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What student leadership opportunity had the most impact on you during your time at UBC?

Being a Senior Residence Advisor had the most impact for me. As a Senior RA, I was able to step out of my comfort zone and lead a team of wonderful RAs while creating initiatives to strengthen the community among residents virtually.

What did you learn about yourself at UBC?

I learned that life in university can be a lot to deal with, but we are never alone in the challenges and obstacles we may face.


David Gibbons (he/him) — Opera

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What student leadership opportunity had the most impact on you during your time at UBC?

There are unique challenges in a performing program. It became apparent that someone needed to find a safe avenue where students could discuss questions of ethics and legal rights. I found a line of anonymous communication with a faculty member and helped forge a safer environment for students to submit their concerns in a way that wouldn’t potentially put their education at risk. When students are afraid, they can’t be their best. Many used that line of communication to aid their mental health. My peers deserve the best; they are all phenomenal people. Any help I could bring was worth my effort.

What did you learn about yourself at UBC?

During my time at UBC, I faced immense challenges when my mother’s unfortunate second battle with breast cancer reared its head in November 2019; then I became a full-time caregiver when my father began to deteriorate against his battle with dementia in March 2020–a battle that would eventually take his life in December. These life-altering events reiterated to me how important it is to cherish your time on this planet and to cherish all the players that impact your life. Despite these hardships, I dug deep, worked harder than ever, and proved to myself that strength comes from dedication, great support, and the comfort that springs from completing one’s goals with the memories of your loved ones by your side.


Brenda Gonzalez Cordova (she/her) — Economics

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What student leadership opportunity had the most impact on you during your time at UBC?

Working as an Arts Peer Advisor, I had the opportunity to empower fellow students through their university experience. By leveraging my experience as a student and my knowledge of the Faculty of Art’s policies, I supported students to build an individualized academic path that focused on their academic and personal goals. In this role, I saw the incredible potential students are able to unleash when they find the right support. This inspired me to continue providing insights in different ways to reach students and provide the resources and opportunities they needed to succeed. As a Work Learn student, I was able to advocate for student’s concerns and promote their education and wellbeing.

What did you learn about yourself at UBC?

As an international student, I realized how important building a community was for me. Being away from home can be challenging so having a strong support system really helped me to stay motivated and pursue my goals. I enjoyed taking on projects and making plans more when I shared my objectives with someone.


Nathan Herrington (he/him) — Human Geography

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What student leadership opportunity had the most impact on you during your time at UBC?

The UBC Campus Tours Team has had a profound impact on my time at UBC and my life. The team is made up of a capable group of students from all corners of the UBC community that support prospective students in determining if UBC is the right fit. I will leave this team with a wide network of friends, a strong commitment to creating welcoming environments for others, the confidence to handle any unexpected challenge, and a strong personal desire to think critically about what I say and how I say it.

What did you learn about yourself at UBC?

I learned how much I value opportunities — to think really hard about something and change because of it.


Reiko Inouye (they/them) — Interdisciplinary Studies

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What student leadership opportunity had the most impact on you during your time at UBC?

The most impactful leadership opportunity I had at UBC was my involvement with the AMS Hatch Art Gallery. Over the past 5 years, I have been fortunate enough to participate as an artist in several exhibitions, volunteer as a docent, and now serve as the Managing Director of the space. I am immensely grateful for the community, memories, and friendships that the Hatch brought me as well as the invaluable experience that provided a safe space to practice roles of curation, art handling, programming, and community organizing to equip me for a future working in art spaces.

What did you learn about yourself at UBC?

We are made up of the people we surround ourselves with. I truly would not be the person I am today without my closest comrades. I am learning every day to not take those support systems for granted, as we collectively keep each other afloat and that is the greatest gift that University has gifted me with.


Kritika Joshi (she/her) — Sociology

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What student leadership opportunity had the most impact on you during your time at UBC?

Being an Arts Peer Advisor for the Faculty of Arts Academic Advising Services during a pandemic had the most impact on me. I am learning on the go and advising students on situations that are new to both of us. But, I learned how to be compassionate and empathetic to anyone who dropped by the Zoom links. I was able to use the knowledge that I learned advising a past student to the next one, and so on. I also got to organize an online BIPOC student-focused event on navigating online academia, which allowed BIPOC students to share their struggles with online university. This helped me understand the different situations that people are experiencing and how I can help ease the stresses of university for them through advising and future initiatives. I am also grateful that I got to connect and learn from other peer advisors and establish good relations with the staff by discussing different student cases and doing further training.

What did you learn about yourself at UBC?

I learned that while I am a person of colour, I still come from a very privileged position. I needed to listen and learn from my BIPOC peers who are experiencing the world in a very different way from me. I learned how to use my privilege to uplift their voices and I still have a lot more to learn — learning is a constant.


Priyam Joshi (she/her) — Psychology & Law and Society

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What student leadership opportunity had the most impact on you during your time at UBC?

My research experiences have been the most impactful opportunities for me. Thanks to UBC, my research career has spanned four countries and has led to tangible results which will enhance community well-being at large. Quick learning, creative thinking, and persistent problem solving are essential in research, but it is my leadership skills that have made me a truly valuable scientist. They helped me understand the technical aspects of research, motivate my team members, advance projects, incorporate multiculturalism and prioritize social justice in my work. In August 2021, I will begin my Ph.D.. I am confident the skills I have learned from UBC’s opportunities got me into the Ph.D. program and will help me be an effective leader in the public mental health field.

What did you learn about yourself at UBC?

I learned that I am driven by the concept that a world-class education, such as UBC’s, is a privilege, and it is a responsibility to use it to better as many lives as possible. I also learned that I am more than my anxieties and worries, what self-care truly means for me, and that my professors, mentors, peers, leaders, friends, and family are looking out for me.


Cristina Lee (she/her) — Linguistics

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What student leadership opportunity had the most impact on you during your time at UBC?

My involvement in the executive team of the UBC Speech and Linguistics Student Association (SALSA)  — as the Project Manager, Vice President and President — for the past three years has contributed to my personal and professional growth immeasurably. Beyond SALSA providing a place of community, it has also allowed me to discover my passions in terms of helping others develop and solidify their career goals. Additionally, I have learned the value of community building and networking. Without SALSA, I would not have made the connections and contributions to the Linguistics student body and department.

What did you learn about yourself at UBC?

Through my time at UBC, I have learned that it is okay to be unsure of what career to pursue. Instead, I took on opportunities as they came, building my path along the way. In being flexible, even when some opportunities did not work out as planned, I was able to move on, giving me the chance to try out new things.


Patrick Leong (he/him) — History & International Relations

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What student leadership opportunity had the most impact on you during your time at UBC?

As the Co-President of the International Relations Student Association, I lead a team of 25 executives to organize academic, professional, and social events for students who are interested in global affairs. IRSA is not just a club; it is a community, through which I have met my closest friends at UBC. United by our passion for world issues, I have been exposed to diverse perspectives by fellow executives as well as the students and experts who participated in our events. I have also learned to moderate debates while not forgetting the human impacts of the current events that we discuss.

What did you learn about yourself at UBC?

At a very personal level, the most important thing I learned at UBC was how to conceptualize my own diasporic identity. Like many other Chinese Canadians, I often struggled to express my hybridity. Growing up in Ottawa, I felt this daily identity crisis between being Chinese and being “Canadian”—at least through the white gaze. At UBC, I have been able to grow a lot in this respect through both my coursework as well as my extracurricular experiences. In courses such as HIST 483 with Professor Henry Yu and my History Honours seminars, I learned a lot about Chinese Canadian history and deconstructing white supremacy, which have helped me better understand my own family’s journey. My History Honours thesis has deepened my understanding of racism in Canada and of the generations of Chinese Canadians before me who resisted exclusion and discrimination.

Outside the classroom, I have had the chance to work as a research assistant with the Initiative for Student Teaching and Research in Chinese Canadian Studies at UBC, where I assist with the production of an upcoming documentary about the 105 Keefer fight in Chinatown and help guide visitors through the Seat at the Table exhibition at the Hon Hsing Athletic Club. Just being in Vancouver, and in Chinatown, has really crystallized my own family’s history; for example, my Great Grandfather first moved to 103 East Pender, just a block away from where I now work. The building is still there. It’s still hard to express, but being in this place and learning at UBC has made me very proud to be Chinese Canadian.


Angela Liu (she/her) — Environment and Sustainability

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What student leadership opportunity had the most impact on you during your time at UBC?

The opportunities to pursue work in research and take ownership of projects fostered not only my passion for biodiversity and conservation but also my confidence in leadership. Being in a research cluster with brilliant minds producing pioneering studies expanded my vantage point and prepared me to take the steps to become a multidisciplinary leader in the field. I hope to contribute to this body of knowledge and set our planet on a path towards a resilient, equitable, and sustainable recovery.

What did you learn about yourself at UBC?

I learned that I really value working with a group of people that share the same passion and ambition in my area of interest, where finding a common language and energy truly allows me to feel connected to my field.


Divija Madhani (she/her) — International Relations & Sociology

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What student leadership opportunity had the most impact on you during your time at UBC?

This year, I designed and led an interdisciplinary student-directed seminar, ‘Sustainability Beyond Buzzwords: Sociopolitical Approaches to Problems in Sustainability’, for nine undergraduate students at UBC. The impacts of this opportunity are deep and ongoing. Three instances are particularly fulfilling. First, benefitting from a rich, multidisciplinary learning environment on the issue of sustainability. Second, collaborating with my peers to improve UBC’s commitment to sustainability by building on UBC’s Annual Sustainability Reports to generate recommendations for greenhouse gas emissions, waste disposal, and transportation on campus. Third, engaging with guest speakers from diverse sustainability backgrounds and sectors to facilitate gateways into real-world change.

What did you learn about yourself at UBC?

Your health comes first. It can be hard to prioritize your wellness in the face of a society that glorifies the “burnout” identity and “hustle” culture, but it is critical to take time to care for your mental, emotional, and physical health. Spending time with family and friends can be a good way to do this!


Mathew McConnachie (he/him) — Economics

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What student leadership opportunity had the most impact on you during your time at UBC?

Group project opportunities at UBC had the biggest impact on my leadership ability. In my second year, I took part in a term long group project in Econ 210. This project highlighted the importance of having exceptional communication skills as a leader along with the ability to maintain organization within the group. Establishing an organized group effort allowed for efficient allocation of tasks that highlighted each group member’s diverse skill set. In the end, we formed a cohesive team of hardworking students and most importantly developed friendships that lasted our whole journey at UBC.

What did you learn about yourself at UBC?

I learned that stepping out of your comfort zone is the best way to learn about yourself. You may find areas that you need to work on or you might even surprise yourself with skills/tools that you didn’t realize you had.


Claire Perry (she/her) — Linguistics

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What student leadership opportunity had the most impact on you during your time at UBC?

Being a Work-Learn at the UBC Wellness Centre! I engaged in many “top-down”, systems-level projects to promote the health of marginalized student communities. This was different from the one-on-one support work I was doing elsewhere, particularly in that there was less immediate gratification in the systems-level work I was doing. In support roles, I got that gratification when someone thanked me or seemed calmer at the end of a conversation. I learned it’s okay to not receive immediate gratification for our work, and even if our endeavours indirectly support one person or initiate one tiny step of progress, it’s worth it.

What did you learn about yourself at UBC?

I learned what balancing my commitments while also dedicating time to nurturing my own wellbeing looks like for me. As student leaders, we’re all able to give so much more to the community when we’ve taken the time to care for ourselves. It took me a very long time to learn this (and self-care will continue to be a learning process for me), but it’s the most valuable lesson I’ve gained in my four years here.


Chrissa Rassias (she/her) — Social Work

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What student leadership opportunity had the most impact on you during your time at UBC?

Being elected as one of the School of Social Work’s Education Curriculum Representatives has been the most fulfilling, challenging, and hands-on leadership role throughout my degree. This role has provided me with opportunities to create, innovate, and participate in the UBC community, encompassing both the School of Social Work, and various community members at large. In tandem to actively contributing, I have learned a tremendous amount about myself as a leader, student, community member, and future social worker. This role has connected me to mentors, mentees, and exemplified the importance of student, faculty and staff connection, communication, and collaboration.

What did you learn about yourself at UBC?

I am passionate about community-oriented work and I followed that passion to where I am today — encountering various opportunities, challenges and stepping stones. I aspire to continue being involved in community organization and team-based, collaborative work. UBC taught me how to strive for more, lead with excitement, and learn with eagerness.


Sophie Rock (she/her) — International Relations

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What student leadership opportunity had the most impact on you during your time at UBC?

My time at UBC is most shaped by my time as a Sustainability Ambassador. As an Ambassador, I had the opportunity to explore sustainability in both local and global contexts, situating my International Relations degree in a way that truly excited me. Through the program, I made connections that ultimately deepened my relationship with sustainability from a base-level understanding to an integrated way of life. Being truly passionate about something that is so pivotal in this current time is incredibly motivating – I have the Sustainability Ambassadors to thank for exposing me to a field I’d never planned on pursuing.

What did you learn about yourself at UBC?

UBC taught me how much I value diversity – to always push for alternatives and to reach into the corners for new perspectives. Diversity reminds you that there is a world of thought that exists outside of your own and exposing yourself to that only pushes you to grow in nuanced and important ways.


Manjot Kaur Sekhon (she/her) — Psychology & Law and Society

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What student leadership opportunity had the most impact on you during your time at UBC?

The student leadership opportunity that had the most impact on my undergraduate journey at UBC is my executive position in the Law and Society Chats club. Being a part of that club allowed me to meet peers and community members with similar academic and career interests. Additionally, serving as president for the course of two years has allowed me to implement my learned knowledge in a real-world setting.

What did you learn about yourself at UBC?

My undergraduate journey at UBC has allowed me to expand my knowledge, network, and skills. Simultaneously, the help of my mentors, peers, and professors during my time at UBC has permitted me to discover my true passion for creating a more just society through an intersectional approach.


Ramneet Sidhu (she/her) — Psychology

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What student leadership opportunity had the most impact on you during your time at UBC?

Being the treasurer for the UBC Law and Society Chats club has had the most impact on me during my time at UBC because of the opportunities and connections it has led me to make. I have had the opportunity to work with UBC’s Law and Society department and connect with various faculty members. It has also allowed me to mentor students and organize events related to people of color and women’s issues in the GRSJ and LASO fields. These issues are close to my heart and I am grateful to have been granted these opportunities.

What did you learn about yourself at UBC?

I learned that I have unlimited potential if I work hard for what I want. Before coming to UBC,  I excelled in all school subjects without studying all the time. Coming to UBC, I was hit with a much needed reality check. I realized I needed to study more to achieve the grades I wanted, and this has led to me to develop a greater work ethic and motivation!


Charlotte Stewardson (she/her) — Psychology

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What student leadership opportunity had the most impact on you during your time at UBC?

The student leadership opportunity that has had the most impact on me has been my position as lab manager at the K.I.D. Studies Centre. Initially, I joined the lab because I really enjoyed working with school age children and I also loved learning about child development in my Psychology courses at UBC. Having the opportunity to train as well as learn from students who share my passion for both research and working with children and families has been an incredible experience that I will not forget. I am incredibly thankful for this position as it has also inspired me to pursue working in my community with children with developmental disabilities.

What did you learn about yourself at UBC?

I learned that I really enjoy research! I previously studied Fine Art and specialized in Sculpting. I had convinced myself that because I came from an art background, I wouldn’t be any good at the more science and math related subjects, and at the beginning I didn’t even bother applying for research positions. It took a lot of dedication and confidence boosting to take the initial plunge that I thankfully received from my peers, family, and friends but I am so glad I went for it because it has completely changed my career goals. I’ve also found ways to integrate my art background, which is extra fun!


Sarrah Virji (she/her) — Speech Sciences

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What student leadership opportunity had the most impact on you during your time at UBC?

The student leadership opportunity that has had the most impact on me during my time at UBC has been organizing Chat and Chai events with the Muslim Student Association. Apart from being the first leadership opportunity I took in my university career, Chat and Chai stood to be our most popular event in the MSA, greater UBC community, and beyond. One such reason was its inclusive, open, and accepting atmosphere. I’m blessed to have worked with such a fantastic team of volunteers that strove to create a space for healthy community bonding through insightful discourse.

What did you learn about yourself at UBC?

There are many factors out of my control, but I’m in control of my actions and responses to the circumstances I find myself in, and that’s more than enough. I found that letting go of perfectionism while focusing my energy on aspects I could control allowed me to grow at a quicker pace.


Vibhuti Wadhwa (she/her) — Economics & Political Science

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What student leadership opportunity had the most impact on you during your time at UBC?

Chairing the 2021 UBC Student Leadership Conference (SLC) has been my most impactful leadership opportunity. The 2021 SLC occurred virtually for the first time ever, and explored matters that UBC Student Leaders are passionate about: anti-racism leadership, celebrating Indigenous leaders, environmental sustainability and climate justice, and community building during a pandemic. The project was meaningful because UBC students explicitly requested dialogue on these crucial areas, and I was able to work alongside my team to fulfill these needs. Student leaders will continue to work on these issues, and the SLC can further build upon this in future years.

What did you learn about yourself at UBC?

My time, experiences and education at UBC have reinforced my belief that I feel most productive and inspired when my actions have a positive community or external effect. Whether it be writing memos advocating for policy reform in my political science courses, welcoming our first-year community through my work as a Residence Advisor, or hosting the first ever virtual SLC discussing matters that are of relevance to our student leader community, the possibility to share and learn from those around me pushes me forward — even when I feel at my lowest. It was so empowering to remind myself that acting on my thoughts could not only further my performance but boost those around me.


Sophie Wirch (she/her) — English Literature

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What student leadership opportunity had the most impact on you during your time at UBC?

My work as a Residence Advisor. A close friend of mine passed away in my residence at the end of first year and so when I stepped into the RA role only several months later, I carried my fears with me. However, through honest communication with and support from my team, I grew in assertiveness and successfully cultivated a secure environment on my floor while also closely supporting several residents in crisis to keep them safe. Ultimately, the role was an extremely redemptive and empowering experience, and I am proud of the emotional hurdles that I overcame.

What did you learn about yourself at UBC?

I learned to value my highly empathetic nature as an incredibly powerful leadership tool — not as an instinct to repress. Although I’m not a huge extrovert, I learned, both through my classes and through my several jobs and volunteer positions, that I can make a real difference in people’s lives through my ability to actively listen and make folks feel heard, valued, and appreciated.


Recognized Leaders Within the Arts Community

The below graduating students were recognized by their peers, advisors, mentors and professors for their extraordinary leadership within the Faculty of Arts.

Vasu Agarwal — International Economics

Sabeeha Amin Manji — Political Science & Law and Society

Sarah Cheung — Speech Sciences

Carla Colina Cortez — International Economics

Christina Daudlin — English Literature

Pengcheng Fang — Sociology

Galia Freiwirth — Speech Sciences

Fion Fung — Speech Sciences & French

Cameron Hill — Classical, Near Eastern, and Religious Studies

Agnes Ho — Linguistics

Cindy Hong — Economics & English Literature and Language

Michaela Jaeckle — International Relations

Brady Klapman (she/her) — Psychology

Jenny Liu — International Economics

Lillian Liu — Asian Studies

Sarah Marvi — Psychology

Nikita Mehrotra — Psychology

Natália Oliveira Ferreira — Linguistics

Kaljit Pandher — Political Science

Reina Pino Fernández — International Relations & Sociology

Kana Saarni — Political Science

Nibras Sharar — Political Science & International Relations

Cherie Tay — Sociology

Akash Uppal — International Economics

Jacob Von Der Heide — International Economics

Kathleen Zaragosa — Cognitive Systems