Her new position as the UBC Aboriginal Student Advisor is a homecoming on two fronts for Sandra Young.
The Musqueam Indian Band member is a graduate of Okanagan University College and, following a stint in the Lower Mainland, recently relocated back to the Okanagan Valley. She recalls her own post-secondary experience.
“I was the first person in my family to attend post-secondary and I had no idea what to expect. If the Aboriginal Student Advisor position existed while I was attending Okanagan University College, it would have been a huge help to me,” said recalls Young who graduated with an anthropology major. “There were days when I felt so lost and overwhelmed by the whole experience, and more than once I wondered if I was doing the right thing.”
The North Kelowna resident has a diverse and impressive resume. One of her previous positions was as an Aboriginal Wellness Coordinator, a position funded by the Province. “This position was a large step for me as I was responsible for liaising with Aboriginal community members throughout the Okanagan, as well as staff from the Ministry of Children and Family Development. Through an extensive consultation process, we worked on improving mental health services for community.”
As an Aboriginal Advocate for School District 23, Young gained experience working with Aboriginal learners in the secondary system. In her advising role at UBC, she plans to draw on this experience to help Aboriginal students transition into post secondary.
After moving back to Vancouver, Young obtained her Editor’s Certificate from Simon Fraser University. She hopes to draw on all her experience for the opportunity here.
“University can be one of the most positive experiences in someone’s life, but it can also be a challenging time for Aboriginal students. For many, this will be the first time they are separated from their community support system,” said Young.
“However, I believe education can be a vital part of furthering one’s goals and dreams. It’s my hope I can be part of their support network here. It’s important to help students navigate their way through university and improve their experience at UBC.”