The benefits of giving back


Elizabeth Yu (far left) and members of her Squad, September 2015.

Starting a new chapter in my life and entering a university with 60,000 students, I was filled with anxiety and excitement all at the same time. I was the first person in my family to attend UBC and therefore was unable to hear about direct experiences from my biggest support system. I had no idea what to expect. “How am I going to navigate my way through this large campus?” and “Who will I lean to when I need support?” were questions I often asked myself when preparing myself for this new adventure. Although I had friends from my high school also attending UBC, I was only 1 of 3 students from my high school that entered the Faculty of Land and Food Systems. I wanted to be open to trying new things, but the thought of failing my academics was always at the back of my mind and I wanted to do everything in my power to prevent that.

First year came with many challenges, both socially and academically. I did my readings on the bus and studied every free minute that I had. My academics consumed me and my work-life balance was non-existent. My wellbeing was at an all-time low and I felt like the only way to succeed was to socially isolate myself and figure it out on my own. Although I successfully passed all my courses, I knew something in my life was lacking. I missed meeting people, getting involved and helping others.

When I think back to the first day of school where I was greeted by my MUG leader, now known as an Orientations Leader, I think about all the opportunities that could come with being one. Not only were they a tight-knit community welcoming new-to-UBC students, they were able to meet people, get involved and help others. This opportunity seemed like everything that was missing in my first year at UBC, so I didn’t hesitate to apply and got an offer!

With the opportunity and responsibility to welcome new-to-UBC students to our campus, I felt motivated to put my best foot forward and try to facilitate the most welcoming and inclusive environment for them. I wanted to let them know that I would only be a phone call or text message away when they needed some guidance on how to navigate their way through campus, support with adjusting to the university life or when times got rough. Frankly, I didn’t want anyone coming to UBC to feel alone like I did in my first year.

I’ve been involved with Orientations for three years now, one as a MUG Leader and two as a Squad Leader. I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with some wonderful leaders who inspire me every day. The amount of dedication to enhancing student life on campus that Orientation Leaders have never ceases to amaze me and I can honestly say that they’ve helped me find my community and my belonging on campus.

Being a part of new-to-UBC students’ first term and first impression of UBC comes with a lot of excitement because we have the chance to provide the guidance and support that they might need to succeed. My experience as a peer leader has been extremely rewarding because I’ve learned what it is like to work on a cohesive team to help others. As an LFS peer, there are so many ways to get involved and give back in order to strengthen our community – for me, Orientations was one of them. I hope you also find something to be a part of that excites you and makes your UBC experience a memorable one.

–  Elizabeth Yu, 3rd year Dietetics

Apply to be an Orientations Leader today. Applications close on January 31st.


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