Community Builder and Rising Star recipients recognized
Two UBC alumni were recognized this week for their extraordinary contributions to both UBC and their communities.
Catherine Comben, BA’67, was presented with the Okanagan Alumni Community Builder award, which honours an outstanding Okanagan-based UBC alumnus who has made, and continues to make, a difference locally, regionally and globally, demonstrating UBC’s values and vision of civil society, sustainability and global responsibility.
Laura Mandelbaum, BA ‘08, was honoured with the Rising Star Award, given to graduates of the Okanagan campus who have shown themselves to be exceptional, bringing pride to the UBC community by applying their learning for the betterment of the world around them.
“These two individuals are examples of how UBC prepares and encourages our students to go out and make a difference,” says Brenda Tournier, senior alumni engagement manager at UBC’s Okanagan campus. “Even more, these are people who show the value of working with and through UBC, long after graduation, to bring about positive change in the world.”
Comben holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and is a current director of the UBC Alumni Association and chair of UBC’s Okanagan alumni chapter committee. She was awarded the City of Kelowna’s Citizen of the Year award in 1998 and was a Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal Recipient in 2002. She has been at the helm of numerous community organizations and initiatives, including the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, the Central and South Okanagan Similkameen United Way, Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers, the corporate fundraising team for the Mission Creek Greenway project, and Rotary.
“I have always believed that if each and every one of us would do just do one small thing for our communities, on a regular basis, our world would be so much better,” says Comben. “I’ve chosen to share my time and efforts by volunteering. It started many years ago and the adventure just blossomed. It has given me wonderful friends, associates and experiences. Looking back, I feel that I am the one who has gained the most.”
Mandelbaum has a bachelor’s degree in international relations from UBC’s Okanagan campus and a master’s degree in medical anthropology from the University of Toronto, where she is now completing a Master of Public Policy degree. She works as a policy analyst for the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration. Originally from Buenos Aires, she is fluent in Spanish. Her resume includes an internship with World University Services of Canada in Ghana, and research ranging from health communication to immigrant food insecurity.
“Through research, I hope to inform and one day shape policies that recognize equity as a central determinant of health,” she says. “Being a UBC grad is central to that. The Okanagan campus helped me to grow into the person I am today and what I learned there, the mentoring I received from my professors, is with me now as I navigate graduate degrees and applied research positions. This award shows me that communities extend beyond geographies and that UBC extends well beyond graduation.”
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