2014 winner Alexa Geddes involved in local and global social activism projects
Alexa Geddes, graduating with a bachelor of science honours with a major in biology and a minor in psychology from UBC’s Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences, is the winner of this year’s $10,000 Pushor Mitchell LLP Gold Medal Leadership Prize.
Now in its fifth year, the prize honours a top graduating student in the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences.
Geddes, from Kelowna, has a long list of civic engagement, leadership, and volunteerism activities. This March, UBC’s Okanagan campus launched the Peer Support Network, a project spearheaded by Geddes. The network serves as a resource centre for students, increasing awareness of mental health and wellness both on and off campus.
“Alexa’s passion and dedication to identifying needs within the UBC and broader community and then leading strategies to fill those gaps really set her apart from other applicants,” says Barbara Rutherford, Acting Dean of the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences. “Her ideas, initiatives, and countless volunteer hours really make a difference to students on our campus and others in the community who benefit from her passion and efforts.”
Geddes founded the UBCO War Child Club, is a board member for the Canadian Mental Health Association, and received a United Way Youth Initiative Grant to found the Elle Effect, a project designed to address the social pressures, self-esteem and body image stresses that girls face. She also served as a UBC Okanagan student senator, participated in a Go Global Exchange to Uppsala Universitat in Sweden, and has fundraised for sport and health organizations at home and abroad.
In 2013, Geddes received the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Award to study the healthcare experiences of Aboriginal peoples suffering from chronic pain. In 2012, she travelled to Zambia as a coordinator for Go Zambia, a project created to develop school soccer clubs for at-risk youth.
“Travelling to Zambia and being involved in Go Zambia profoundly influenced my future path and ignited my passion for collaborating with communities, understanding vulnerable populations, and developing healthy environments where everyone can thrive,” says Geddes.
“As an active member of the Kelowna business community, our law firm wanted to create a way to give back to the community and reward and encourage emerging leaders,” says Mark Baron, managing partner at Pushor Mitchell LLP.
“Over the past number of years we have come to appreciate what an integral position UBC has fulfilled not only as a training ground for our future leaders but also as an important economic engine for our region. Alexa has demonstrated incredible leadership and dedication to her community in her four years with UBC, and Pushor Mitchell LLP is honoured to recognize her.”
Geddes has been accepted into UBC’s Faculty of Medicine, and will begin studies at the Vancouver campus this fall. She plans to pursue a career in medicine and global health and apply her academic learning and service experience to help underserved populations, develop the capacity of others and be a health advocate for those in need both in Canada and overseas.
“My time at UBC has provided me with opportunities to grow and discover and I am so inspired by all of the amazing faculty and students here who supported me and pushed me every day,” says Geddes. “I now wish to use these experiences to make a difference in communities around the world. I am so grateful to UBC for all of the opportunities I have had here, and to Pushor Mitchell for recognizing and supporting me through this award which will help me finance my dream of becoming a physician.”