Category Archives: Involvement

Token inspirational post-SLC blog post

SLC 2012: That’s a wrap

University lesson of the moment:
sometimes the most rewarding university experiences are the ones you never expected to have.

Flashback to September 2011. A slightly dorky, bespectacled first-year shows up on UBC campus, becomes addicted to Blue Chip cookies, and is instantly overwhelmed by the amount of involvement opportunities on campus. Late one night, while avoiding her biology readings, she spots a call for SLC Active Promotions Leaders on Twitter and decides to apply. For reasons unknown, the committee wants to hire her despite spluttering like an idiot for a few minutes during her interview about how she knows nothing about the conference (“but I’m a fast learner!”).

Fast-forward to now, three days post-conference. Over the past few months, I’ve addressed 400-person lecture halls, logged a ton of hours in the Centre for Student Involvement, received more emails than I have in the last 18 years combined, handed out hundreds of rave cards, and put holes in a pair of flats from running around Buchanan on Saturday. Most importantly, I’ve been a part of a fantastic and supportive team composed of amazing and involved UBC students who have inspired me to make the most of my university experience. Also, we quote SNL videos and have dance parties together, which is pretty cool.

The moral of this long-winded blog post? If you see an opportunity, go for it, regardless of whether or not you think it’ll work out. In the words of my homeboy Teddy Roosevelt: “It is hard to fail, but it is worse to never have tried to succeed.” True story.

For those of you who didn’t get to attend the SLC and are looking to get a taste of what it was like (or you’re avoiding studying in Irving like I am), here’s our opening video and the two keynotes’ TED talks for your viewing pleasure.

Newsflash: UBC now 47% more awesome

SLC countdown: 8 days (which means only 8 more days of my blog readers having to put up with my constant SLC promo spam). The SLC team launched the UBC is Awesome campaign this week to promote our closing keynote Neil Pasricha. The campaign involves naming all the things that make UBC amazing, Book of Awesome-style. A few personal favourites:

  • “The warm air vents on a chilly walk.” There’s one right in front of Triple O’s that I always passed on my way to the library, and it may or may not lead to the fabled steam tunnels…
  • “Bouncing on the bouncy bushes.” I was the only brave soul in my Imagine Day group who wasn’t embarrassed to bounce on these bushes during first week, and since then they forever hold a special place in my heart.
  • “The Harry Potter room.” Also known as the Riddington Room or my second home during exam time. It has a winding staircase, chandeliers, and a portrait who looks like a very academic Nicholas Cage. Awesome, indeed.

Keep your head up

I have a lot of reasons to be happy right now. My midterms are done, I finished my lab test with minimal mistakes today (shout out to Bret from my chem lab, who never laughs at me when I screw up), and my floor now has a Christmas tree. Life is good. Even the semi-constant rain and scary wind we’ve been experiencing for the last couple of days can’t get me down.

Another thing that makes me happy is that KU house council had our first big event of the year tonight: the Concrete Jungle Mocktail Party. I was held up and only got there near the end, but it was a really good time, with jazz music, semi-formal attire, and all our proceeds going to United Way. Plus, we had sparkling apple juice. Nothing screams class like sparkling apple juice.

KU house council looking spiffy
I know final exams are right around the corner, and my happiness will probably waning soon, but I need to make sure to remember the things about university that make me smile while I’m poring over my CHIRP next week. Just in case you’re also dreading finals and are in need of a little pick-me-up, here’s the happiest song/music video I could think of. It’s the first track on my “happy” playlist on my iPod and never fails to put me in a good mood.

SLC 2012: What’s Stopping You?

We promise your SLC breakthrough moment won’t be quite this messy…

Registration for the 2012 Student Leadership Conference is now open. Get hit with your breakthrough on January 14th.

The SLC is a day-long conference dedicated to helping students reach their leadership goals. With amazing keynotes, fantastic workshops, incredible community initiatives and innovative case studies, anyone can find the tools they need to reach their own breakthrough. There’s only one question to ask: What’s stopping you? That’s right, nothing.

PS: I think this video gets better and better every time I watch it, although I still cringe every time I watch the paint splatter in my face. Shout out to Erica and her editing skills for the awesome promo video.

UBC Votes: November 19th

As (hopefully) many of you know, there’s a Vancouver municipal election happening tomorrow. However, since UBC isn’t a part of the city of Vancouver, we don’t vote for mayor and city council. What you might not know is that the UBC Endowment Lands make up an area known as Electoral Area A, and we have one elected representative who sits on the board of Metro Vancouver.

Only 31% of Electoral Area A residents voted in the last election, and only 8% of those voters were UBC students. This is an insanely low turnout, but it also means that your vote has a lot of pull. Municipal elections are important since the issues at hand will directly affect you and your everyday life, arguably on a larger scale than provincial and federal politics. Rapid transit at UBC in particular is one issue for which the Metro Vancouver board is responsible. Sick of your hour and a half commute every morning? This might be the way to make sure your voice is heard.

You are eligible to vote if you are:

1. 18 years of age or older on election day

2. A Canadian citizen

3. A resident of British Columbia for at least 6 months

4. A resident in your municipality for at least 30 days

How to vote:

Vote tomorrow, Saturday November 19th, between 8 am and 8 pm.

If you live on campus, you can go vote in the SUB. If you live in Vancouver, find your voting location here. Bring 2 pieces of government-issued ID and proof of address.

Want more information on how to vote? Get the facts at Apathy is Boring. To read a Ubyssey article on the candidates and their platforms, click here.

Since I’m from Ontario and haven’t lived in BC for more than six months, I’m not eligible to vote, so I’m going to live vicariously through you, blog readers. In case you need a little more incentive, here’s a video of the UBC Vote Mob in April to get you inspired. Now get out there and rock the vote!

UBCO SLC 2011: Colour Outside the Lines

This weekend, around 20 UBC Vancouver students, including myself, headed up to Kelowna to attend the UBC Okanagan Student Leadership Conference. The SLC is a one-day student-led conference designed to give current and emerging leaders the tools to become better leaders and to promote leadership within the community and on a global scale. UBCO’s SLC celebrated its fifth anniversary this year with their largest conference yet.

The UBC Vancouver delegates, obviously showing everyone at UBCO how really, really, ridiculously good-looking their sister campus is…

That being said, the UBCO SLC was much smaller compared to its Vancouver counterpart due to UBCO’s small campus size: there were 250 delegates as opposed to the over a thousand students who attend the UBC Vancouver SLC. Instead of an opening and closing keynote, there was a single keynote speaker at the beginning of the day. The rest of the conference consisted of the delegates attending three concurrent workshops with a lunch break in the middle (which I had been looking forward to almost as much as the conference itself. If there’s one thing a university student loves, it’s a free meal), followed by a closing ceremony. There were a wide variety of workshops, ranging from diversity to global citizenship to public speaking. I personally attended “Social networking”, “The power of positive thinking” and “Do what you love, love what you do”. All of them were really helpful and informative, and I’m definitely coming back to Vancouver with some new knowledge.

Another really cool aspect of the day was talking to all the UBCO students. It was great to get a feel for what their student life is like and how it compares to UBC Vancouver (expect a blog post on that in the next couple of days). We also all got to be filmed by a helicopter post-conference as we spelled out the letters “UBC” in the field for a recruitment video. It was good times, even though I felt like a bit of an idiot jumping up and down for a minute straight. Keep an eye out for the video in the future: I’m that little speck in the fur-lined parka.

Ray Zahab, the SLC keynote and generally awesome human being

But the highlight of the day, at least for me, was the keynote speaker, Ray Zahab. He went from a pack-a-day smoker to an ultra-marathon runner in two and a half years, and ended up running across the entire Sahara desert in 111 days.  Matt Damon made a documentary about his adventure, Running the Sahara, which focuses not only on the expedition itself but also on the water crisis in northern Africa. (I’m definitely planning on watching it as soon as I get my two midterms out of the way this week.) When he returned from Africa, Ray started his own company, impossible2Possible, which is dedicated to giving youth the chance to go on similar adventures, and to see just how much they are capable of when they really push themselves.

However, the thing that resonated the most with me wasn’t Ray’s retelling of swimming through the Amazon rainforest with crocodiles or running in 50°C heat (although that was pretty jaw-dropping). Instead, it was the words that went through Ray’s mind when he finished his 111-day trek across the Sahara and finally plunged his hand into the Cairo river: “No limits”.

We’re at a world-class school in a wealthy, developed country, living in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. As university students, the entire world is an open book to us. We’re free to go down whichever path we want, free to choose our own adventure, and while it may not involve running a marathon a day for three months straight, if you’re willing to work impossibly hard to achieve your goal, it is within your reach. I haven’t found my Sahara just yet, but when it presents itself, I know that I will stop at nothing until I’ve reached the finish line. If you walked into my room right now, you would see the words “NO LIMITS” scrawled in huge letters across my mirror, just to remind myself every day that anything is possible.

Lace Up, because Rick said so

Lace Up for Kids is a charity event happening on November 24th and organized by UBC REC. Through 50,000 laps around Thunderbird arena, $100,000 dollars will be raised to create affordable and high-quality after school programs for kids in the lower mainland. Being charitable combined with an awesome MTV-worthy promo video? I don’t need any more convincing. Register by November 17th!

To add to the awesomeness, Lace Up for Kids got a shout out on the Rick Mercer Report. If you don’t know who Rick Mercer is, you probably aren’t Canadian. Well that, or you actually had cable as a child and didn’t spend hours upon hours watching CBC since it the was the only channel you got on your TV’s antenna. Good times.

Botany and Kool Aid

Thursday is always the busiest day of my week. Usually, this ends up being a bad thing, but today I actually ended up having an awesome day. Here’s a rundown:

The “E” on Main Mall was painted today in honour of Movember. Made me smile.
8 am – For SCIE 113, we had an assignment to interview a researcher. That’s how my friend Quinne and I ended up in Dr. Roy Turkington’s office in the Biodiversity building this morning, listening to a story about one of his colleagues getting chased down by a jaguar while doing field work in the Serengeti. For anyone who thought botany research was boring, think again. A lot of the plant talk went right over my head, but it was great to find out more about some of the research that is going on at UBC, and I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who was more excited while talking about plant communities. For more information on Dr. Turkington’s research, check out his lab website. Added bonus, we finished with the interview with just enough time to make a breakfast run to Timmie’s in the Forestry building.

9:30 am – Time for the most dreaded part of my day: an hour and a half of calculus, also known as the class that makes time stand still. Today was made even worse than average due to a student teacher who kept mispronouncing “tangent” (it’s a soft G!) and the unusually low temperature in class. I ended up wrapping my circle scarf around my head in a desperate attempt to hold onto my body heat, attracting a lot of weird stares from the people around me.

The womb. I’m willing to bet at least half the people on those benches are sleeping…

11 am – Naptime isn’t just for kindergardeners anymore. Freezing and mentally drained from calculus, I walked over to the Aquatic Centre for a well-deserved nap on the stretches of carpeted benches overlooking the pool, aptly named “the womb”. It’s so cozy and warm up there, and something about the smell of chlorine and the sound of the water makes my eyelids feel instantly heavier…zzzzzz.

12 pm – Wake up just in time for class. Grab a Marbelous cookie and cafe mocha from Blue Chip in the SUB. Sugar and caffeine, always a good combination.

12:30 pm – SCIE 113 Science and Society Speaker Series. Today’s presenter was Lisa Johnson, a reporter for CBC Vancouver and a UBC Science alum. Her talk focused on the connections between investigative reporting and the scientific method, and discussed how her journalism benefits from her science background. It really demonstrated that many things we’re learning in SCIE 113, such as how to evaluate claims and use different forms of evidence, can be applicable to all kinds of real-world issues. I also found her career path particularly interesting since I’ve been considering going into scientific journalism lately. For more information on Lisa’s talk, read this post from her blog.

In Chem 121, we answer life’s big questions, like “what’s in grape Kool Aid?” Ohhhh yeahhhh.

2 pm – Chem labs freak me out. You’re not actually given a step-by-step procedure; you need to read through your lab manual and figure out the experimental design for yourself. Then, when you get to the lab, you have 10 minutes to write a quiz on the material, and then you’re on your own for the next 3 hours. Super intimidating. Also, I had a mishap with a titration a couple weeks ago that left my self-confidence in the lab seriously shaken. I actually enjoyed today’s experiment, though, and managed to get through it without completely screwing up. We took Grape Kool Aid, and through a bunch of fancy lab techniques were able to determine which food dyes were used to colour it, and what their concentrations were. I won’t bore you with all the nerdy details, but at one point you could actually see the red and blue dye bands separating out of the Kool Aid. I wish I could’ve taken a picture, but cell phones aren’t allowed in the lab. It was cool though. You’ll just have to trust me on that one.

5:30 pm – Dinner with my KU 2 ladies in the Vanier dining hall. I had the most awesome lasagna I’ve ever tasted outside of Italy for dinner tonight (I was really hungry though, so my judgement might have been compromised). Also, Leigh, one of the UBC Food Services employees, told me he feels like “we’re tight” since I always choose his register over all the other ones. We sure are, Leigh. We sure are.

6:30 pm – KU House Council meeting in the lounge. We made “tombstones” for those who have perished in sock wars so far and came up with a variety of creative deaths, including “overdosed on candy from Hubbard’s”. There’s also a winter formal dinner and dance in the works for the last day of classes. Get pumped, Vanier.

8 pm – Biked to meet Melinda at IKBLC, where we desperately attempted to wrap our heads around wavefunctions before our chem quiz tomorrow morning. We mainly wasted a bunch of time trying to imitate our prof’s British accent, but we figured things out in the end.

And now, I’m lying on my way-too-high bed, trying to keep my eyes open as I finish this blog post at 1 am. Now that’s dedication, folks. Goodnight, UBC!

Hanging out with Florence

What I did today: Convinced a bunch of people to be in a SLC promo video, mainly by running up to them and yelling “HEY DO YOU WANT TO BE FAMOUS?!” scary loud in their faces. It proved to be a pretty effective approach.

What I’m doing now: Taking a break from my chem prelab (read: I haven’t started yet) and hoping that the Vanier dining hall has good chef’s soups tonight. Seafood chowder would be ideal.

What I’m listening to: Florence + the Machine’s new album, Ceremonials, which came out yesterday and has been blasting from my room ever since. Here’s the video for the album’s first single, “Shake it Out”, which basically makes me want to dance around and climb trees.

Also, I found this video today that both accurately describes my issues with procrastination and makes my inner Pokemon nerd smile. Win-win.

Go to CLASS!

October 24th-28th is UBC’s Conference for Learning and Academic Student Success, also known as CLASS.

All through high school, I was told that the leap from high school to university is huge, and my first round of midterms have made me realize just how true that really is. There are two huge differences I’ve noticed from high school. The first is that university isn’t about memorizing facts and regurgitating them onto a piece of paper. It’s about learning, understanding, and applying your knowledge to new situations. The second difference is that you need to be self-motivated in your learning. No one is going to hold your hand and make sure that you understand everything. If you need help, it’s up to you to seek out the resources you need to do well. And that’s where CLASS comes in.

CLASS is a five-day conference for first years, filled with workshops and resources (and upper year volunteers!) designed to help you improve your study habits and reach your academic goals. The calendar of events can be found here. Personally, I’m planning on hitting up the Chemistry and Math Subject-Specific Seminars and the Time Management Workshop. If you’re struggling, CLASS is a great place to figure out how to adjust your study habits so you can be more successful. Even if you’re not struggling, I still think it’s worth attending and seeing what they have to say. There’s always room for improvement, after all!

Registration is open (and free!), so register now and stay CLASSy, UBC.