Celebrating the Commerce Class of 2021

Posted 2021-06-01

June is graduation season and it’s time to celebrate more than 800 UBC Sauder School of Business students who have completed their Bachelor of Commerce degrees while also contributing to the school community in thousands of special ways.

While the entire class of 2021 will be remembered for their resilience, empathy and humour in the face of adversity, three students are being honoured as class leaders.

Harleen Sohi, winner of the Dorothy Anne Dilworth Memorial Prize

Harleen Sohi was overcome with emotion when she learned she had won the Dorothy Anne Dilworth Memorial Prize, awarded to the most outstanding woman student in the BCom graduating class. Candidates are chosen based on their standout contributions to the UBC Sauder community while also maintaining a strong academic average.

“Winning this prize is so humbling,” says Sohi. “I really owe this honour to all the people I worked with during the last five years and all the people who supported me.”

Being a role model to others is a prerequisite for this award – something Sohi did in spades. She served as Vice President of the CUS and volunteered with SSE Kenya, the Residence Hall Association and UBC Sauder Orientations. She was also a Teaching Assistant, a Class Liaison, and Chair of the COMM 202 Student Advisory Committee. But it wasn’t always smooth sailing.

“Being a student leader on a campus like UBC is difficult because you are always under scrutiny. But stepping into bigger roles made me grow as a person and as a leader.”

After pursuing a dual specialization in marketing and business law, Sohi was hired in January by the Fraser Health Authority, where she’s working in her field of interest – labour relations. Looking back on her education, she’s glad she found the courage to step out of her comfort zone and experience student life to the fullest.

“My advice to incoming students is to embrace challenges, and if you feel uncomfortable, that’s okay. These years are all about trying new things. Say yes more than you say no because it will always be a blessing or a lesson.”

Benson Yang, winner of the Matthew H. Henderson Memorial Prize

Benson Yang was on his way to class when he walked past the trophy case in the Henry Angus building and noticed the Matthew H. Henderson Memorial Prize for top male student of the BCom graduating year.

“At the time I thought it would be nice to graduate with something like that,” recalls Yang. “Then I ended up knowing some past recipients of the award and I noticed they were really passionate about what they were doing with their lives. And that was something I wanted to embody as well.”

Yang opted to do a five-year degree in order to savour his collegiate experience. He joined clubs and organizations he was curious about, competing in the JDC West case competition, then becoming a coach and mentor for other UBC Sauder teams. He also joined the UBC Social Enterprise Club and served as Vice President, Internal and Finance. As a Research Fellow for the newly-formed Social Innovation Academy, he conducted market research and developed a marketing plan. Yang was also a member of the UBC Men’s Ultimate Frisbee team.

“One of the biggest tips I would give Sauder students is keep an open mind and take the time to explore all your different options. Talk to as many people as you can to gain an understanding of what your passions are. Over time, you will start to see what career you want after university.”

Yang’s interests led him to take his finance major and combine it with a specialization in sustainability & social impact. Today, he’s pursuing a career in social finance and impact investing; excited about the opportunity to work with companies that are driving sustainability in business.

Kaitlyn Ho, winner of the Stanley Hamilton Award

Growing up in Calgary, Kaitlyn Ho dreamed of attending UBC, where her father had studied computer science and math. When she arrived on campus, she threw herself into both academics and extra-curriculars. Her contributions as a student leader made her a natural choice for the school’s top prize for service – the Stanley Hamilton Award.

“One of my greatest joys has been creating community among students,” says Ho, who completed a double major in accounting and entrepreneurship over five years and will join KPMG’s enterprise audit team in the fall. On the side, she will continue building her online business, Attire Media, which focuses on ethical and sustainable fashion.

Serving on the Dean’s Student Advisory Council and contributing to conversations around diversity and inclusion, and helping to shape new curriculum on ethics and sustainability in business as a member of the BCom Review Committee are just two examples of Ho’s achievements. She was also President of Amnesty International UBC, Vice President of the Place Vanier Residents’ Association, and involved with Young Women in Business UBC. More recently, she conducted research on social and environmental transparency in the fashion industry as a Commerce Scholar, and mentored students as Head Teaching Assistant for COMM 202.

“In COMM 202, we talk about designing your life and how this is the time to be getting clear on what your values are and what you want to get out of life. Then, look to others for inspiration and motivation to achieve your goals. Rather than competing, we are here to lift each other up and help each other achieve success.”

Wishing our graduates success on their individual paths

It is through this desire to get the most out of their university years that these three award winners set an inspiring example for their cohort. The entire class of 2021 is leaving a lasting impression on the school as well, not just for their ability to adapt to great change, but also for their support of one another amidst such uncertainty.

Honouring top academic achievement

Honours were also bestowed on four BCom 2021 graduates for their leading academic performance. Congratulations to the following individuals:

Dan Muzyka Head of the Class Award in Commerce

Helen Liu

Colin C. Gourlay Medal and Prize

Beverley Fung

Ralph Loffmark Medal

Ashley Chana

Vaibhav Aggarwal