Alumni Spotlight, People
Hard work and dedication pay off
November 26, 2015
Biochemistry (Medical Option)
Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences
Okanagan (Kelowna, BC)
BSc Midwifery, UBC Vancouver (in progress)
BSc Honours, UBC Okanagan (2014)
“I recognized the importance of working with others, and that we need others to challenge ourselves and think outside the box.”
REBECCA MLIKOTIC’S ROAD TO EARNING HER DEGREE was paved with valuable life lessons, including accepting and being comfortable with asking for help.
“I came to realize that if my classmates and I were going to be successful in this program, we were going to need to work together,” Mlikotic says. “This meant swallowing our pride and forming study groups, sharing notes, discussing lab results, and being there to support each other. I recognized the importance of working with others, and that we need others to challenge ourselves and think outside the box.”
Growing up in the city of Kelowna—UBC Okanagan’s backyard—Mlikotic knew the university was her obvious choice. Not only could she complete a UBC degree in her hometown, she was able to live at home and save money during her studies. And coming from a small high school, Mlikotic was drawn to UBC Okanagan by the campus size.
“A community this size helped me appreciate the diversity of students on campus, the advantages of smaller classes, and being able to walk across campus in five minutes,” she says.
DEVELOPING INTO A CRITICAL THINKER
Incorporating current research and real-life examples is what Mlikotic enjoyed most about classes taught by Chemistry professor Allan Vaisius, who “really encouraged each of his students to think for themselves.”
“It is very easy to be seduced by the idea that you can simply memorize the material to do well on midterms, rather than spending the time to work through it and really grasp an understanding of it,” Mlikotic says. “Professor Vaisius, however, helped me strengthen my critical thinking skills. He once said, ‘I don’t want you to memorize. I have computers to do that. I want you to think.’ ” That still resonates with her today.
HARD WORK PAYS OFF
Mlikotic credits time management and self-motivation as the two biggest lessons she’s brought from her UBC experience to her current role at the Early Detection Research Team at the BC Cancer Agency in Kelowna. “University is all about deadlines,” she says. “You learn very quickly how hard you have to work, how much time you need to dedicate to certain things, and how to plan in advance.”
Research, she says, is full of unknowns. “It takes a lot of self-motivation and dedication to continue working towards your goal. I developed critical-thinking skills that help me work through unforeseen project problems in a logical way, and to have the confidence to work through these problems on my own before asking others for help.”
And as Mlikotic learned, her undergrad experience solidified what her parents have told her for years—hard work and dedication really do pay off.
Mlikotic’s passion for people is indisputable. At the BC Cancer Agency, along with another intern, she oversees 10 summer students and their projects. Being able to help guide students to a better understanding of the projects, just like former interns helped Mlikotic when she first started as a summer student, is what she cites as her favourite aspect about her job.
“I am passionate about people,” she says. “I am passionate about connecting with them and having meaningful conversations about their dreams, their worries, and their goals. I love learning about how people see the world, and encouraging them to make it a better place by the way they live their life.”
That has led her to pursue a career in midwifery through the UBC Vancouver degree program. “As a midwife, I will be getting to know a woman and her family from the beginning of her pregnancy until several months after the birth of her baby. There is a lot of trust that must be built during this time, and I am eager to invest in my clients and their loved ones.
“Witnessing child birth is such an amazing experience, and I am so excited to journey with others as they undergo that special, momentous time in their lives.”
—by May Li