Alumni Spotlight, People
Research assistant Alvina Leung praises the science foundation she built at UBC Okanagan
February 9, 2016
Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences
Okanagan (Kelowna, BC)
“Being a student leader was an opportunity for me to develop an array of soft skills, including managerial, administrative, and budget planning.”
EXPERIENCING A NEW CITY and being able to receive a world-class education through small class sizes is why alumna, microbiologist, and avid volunteer Alvina Leung intially chose UBC’s Okanagan campus.
Although Leung says the initial transition from Vancouver to Kelowna was tough, she soon felt at home. “A few weeks into my first term, I became fully immersed in the community. New friends were made and I no longer felt out of place. I was always able to find resources and people for assistance because of the welcoming nature at UBC Okanagan,” she says.
While the road to earning her UBC degree was challenging, Leung recognizes the importance of an intellectually stimulating curriculum. It pushed her to challenge her limits. Achieving this, and meeting a diverse group of individuals from different backgrounds, is what Leung sought and gained in her university experience.
“I wanted to develop new skill sets to prepare for an aspiring career in health care. After two years of being involved with the Biology Course Union, I became the president. Being a student leader was an opportunity for me to develop an array of soft skills, including managerial, administrative, and budget planning.”
PRIORITIZE TO MAXIMIZE
Leung credits the foundation she built at UBC Okanagan in preparing her for work as a research assistant in gastrointestinal disease research. “There was a lot of material to learn when I first started working, but I was able to learn fast. My analytical abilities allowed me to resolve unexpected problems at work.”
Thanks to UBC’s intense science curriculum, Leung also learned to manage time and prioritize tasks. In addition to a full course load, Leung volunteered for extracurricular activities at the Student Research Society, Kelowna General Hospital, and Canadian Blood Services.
“The only solution was to prioritize competing tasks and organize my schedule properly,” she says. “Not only was I able to graduate from the science program, I was able to accumulate over 1,000 hours of volunteer work over the years.”
DEDICATION TO PUBLIC HEALTH
Leung’s strong interest in public health is driving her to pursue a career in communicable disease prevention and control.
Along with two emergency physicians at Kelowna General Hospital, Leung completed a public-health project on common fall patterns associated with adults over the age of 65 who live in the Okanagan. Results from the study have provided insight on how fall preventative measures can be improved for this vulnerable demographic.
Leung continues to fuel her interest in public health by working with gastroenterologists on quality improvement projects. Her passion, commitment, and foundational education are helping her to build a solid foundation of clinical research and to contribute her knowledge towards global public health initiatives.