These three graduating BCom students have helped build community
We’re celebrating three UBC Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) students and prize recipients from the Class of 2023 who have demonstrated leadership, fostered a sense of belonging, and given back during their time at the UBC Sauder School of Business.
Kelly Huang estimates she's held 26 positions for 15 student-led clubs at UBC Sauder.
"I'd say that's definitely an overkill," Huang says with a chuckle. "It started because my friends always asked me to help them with marketing ideas for their clubs, and I always said yes."
For Huang, the drive to engage with these clubs stemmed from her own longing for friendship.
"Initially, I just wanted to make some friends. But I quickly realized the community aspect itself became just as important as academics. So being able to come to school, see familiar faces, and collaborate with other hardworking students really motivated me to continue getting involved."
Getting involved swiftly evolved into taking the lead. Huang was the co-chair of the UBC Sauder Health and Wellness Club, where she focused heavily on promoting mental health. She also held executive positions at the UBC Accounting Club, the UBC Marketing Association, and the National Strategy Consulting Competition & Conference (NSCC).
But the role closest to her heart is her recent position as a co-director of the CUS Visual Media Club, a community of student photographers and videographers.
"We have so many photographers who cover multiple events but who don't really get the recognition they deserve. This year, we focused on making our team feel empowered by giving them opportunities to develop new skills. We had senior photographers conduct workshops for our junior photographers," says Huang. "We've been able to really make a family within our team."
As someone who thrives on leading and creating community, it's no surprise that Huang felt challenged when UBC shifted to online classes during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. But when in-person classes resumed, the experience of returning to campus turned into some of her most treasured memories.
"When I stepped foot into the CPA Hall again and saw everyone, I was so overwhelmed with gratitude. I reflected on how I had the honour of calling them my friends, and was able to see them before my own graduation. It made me appreciate spending time with the BCom community a lot more,” she recalls.
Huang graduates with a specialization in accounting and business technology management. She will be joining Deloitte and pursuing her Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) accreditation.
Many students from across Canada and around the world consider UBC campus their home away from home. For Larry Chen, however, it his literal home – having lived on campus throughout his childhood.
This rootedness to the university—as well as his natural leadership tendencies—inspired the fifth-year BCom student to become a mentor to incoming students at UBC Sauder.
"The mentorship went from small things like 'What classes should one take?' to more life-defining questions like, ‘What career journey can I embark on?'” explains Chen. “I also offered myself as a guide to help them navigate their course loads, the summer classes they could take, and even connected them with professionals in my network who share their passions and would be able to provide better guidance than I could."
Chen was also a dedicated leader of The Spark, a student-led initiative that welcomes newly-admitted BCom students into the UBC Sauder community with a two-day event filled with games and social activities.
He says he particularly values his work with the UBC Marketing Association (UBCMA) and credits the upper-level students he met there for instilling mentorship values early on.
"I learned so much from my seniors, and they were the ones who really helped to shape how my university degree played out; they were the people who I went to whenever I had any questions. The community really was one of mentorship," says Chen.
Chen's favourite memory centres on a conference put together by the UBCMA in 2022, when he was the club's co-president.
"As the event successfully drew to a close and attendees left the venue, I remember looking at the team and sensing this collective sigh of relief. We did it as a team and we made an impact on the community," recounts Chen. "This memory will be a highlight of my BCom degree."
As Chen graduates with a specialization in marketing, he’ll be joining Johnson & Johnson as an Associate Brand Manager on the heels of a successful internship at the company.
For Alice Ko, fostering community meant taking her skills and leadership beyond borders. The fourth-year BCom student was an integral member of UBC Sauder LIFT (formerly known as Sauder Social Entrepreneurship Kenya).
As part of the business training program, students take the concepts they've learnt in the classroom to developing countries, where they deliver workshops to empower local entrepreneurs to start or expand their own business ventures. In her final year, Ko was the program’s undergraduate lead and she oversaw live business classes and workshops.
"My main goal was to ensure we delivered a meaningful curriculum for the entrepreneurs we work with, and to ensure we provided unwavering support."
Ko says she takes immense inspiration from the entrepreneurs she has interacted with in Kenya and Ghana, and there is one particular memory that stands out.
"I had the opportunity to organize and host a live pitch day for 32 women entrepreneurs in Nairobi. On that day, I witnessed the power of the business lessons we learned at UBC Sauder in action. It was creating a real impact on small business owners in Africa. I remember seeing the determination to absorb the information and the confidence that the women in the room demonstrated," says Ko. "I felt incredibly inspired."
When it comes to advice for incoming and prospective BCom students, Ko encourages everyone to take control of their undergraduate experience, and to never hesitate to reach out for help or collaborate on a shared vision.
"Valuable ideas, experiences, and memories are all created through connecting with like-minded people," says Ko. "I also believe that no one deserves to go through life alone."
After graduating with a specialization in accounting, Ko will pursue a career in marketing.
On behalf of the entire UBC Sauder community, congratulations to the Class of 2023!