Alumni Spotlight, People
Making an impact by giving back
August 22, 2016
Alumnus (Class of 2016)
Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences
Okanagan (Kelowna, BC)
Bachelor of Science (in progress)
“What we are taught are the keys to help us create the life of our choosing.”
WHEN VIKTOR NNABUIHE CHOSE UBC OKANAGAN, he saw it as an opportunity to start a new chapter of his life on a blank page, a chance to really figure out who he is. Moving away from family and friends in Alberta, Nnabuihe welcomed change with excitement.
“UBC is among the top-ranked universities in the world, and I wanted to be a part of its legacy,” he says. “I wanted to be part of an institution that would properly set me up for a successful future, and I knew UBC could provide that to me.”
Nnabuihe looks back on his undergraduate studies and reaffirms that he made the right decision coming to UBC Okanagan. “Declaring Environmental Chemistry as my major in my second year was one of the best decisions so far.”
Beyond books, Nnabuihe helped form and establish, and also served as the President of the Environmental Chemistry Course Union (ECCU), shaping the ECCU into an important resource for students on campus. His involvement in student associations and clubs, however, does not end there.
In 2015, Nnabuihe co-chaired the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event, raising more than $30,000 for cancer research at UBC Okanagan. In 2014/2015, Nnabuihe was President of the British Columbia Waste Water Association (BCWWA) UBC Okanagan Student Chapter. This year, he’s the Assistant to the Vice-President of Finance & Operations for the University of British Columbia Student Union (UBCSUO). To top that off, when he has the free time, you can find Nnabuihe working as a teaching assistant for upper-level environmental science and analytical labs.
HARD WORKS PAYS OFF
For Nnabuihe, the biggest highlight of his UBC experience has been meeting people.
“I have come to realize that so many of the opportunities that have been granted to me, ranging from playing basketball with the Mayor of Kelowna, to meeting the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal of UBC, to spending time with an Olympic podium athlete, have only been possible because of the individuals that I have been privileged to work and interact with.”
Nnabuihe adds that the road to earning his degree hasn’t been “all unicorns and rainbows.”
“There were countless hours spent in the library, along with many all-nighters. Nevertheless, I believe the hard work that went into the degree is what makes me value it so much.”
“Upon graduating, I will have learned many things and passed many exams. More important to me than the academic knowledge that I have gained, is the hard work ethic that I have developed,” he says.
“University is not easy. It is an incredible learning process. Along the way, I always reminded myself take a breath and keep working harder. No matter what, it’s important to keep perspective, laugh off the bad days, and just do your best.”
INVESTING IN YOURSELF
Nnabuihe largely credits two professors—Professor of Chemistry Susan Murch and Associate Professor of Chemistry Karen Perry—for making a big difference in his UBC experience.
“Despite teaching and interacting with hundreds of students, Dr. Murch and Dr. Perry saw something in me,” Nnabuihe says. “They helped me come to understand that what we are taught is not the end; what we are taught are the keys to help us create the life of our choosing.
“Dr. Murch and Dr. Perry taught me to think for myself and mentored me. They made time for me when it didn’t look like they had any. When you commit to an idea, and show passion, professors will see that, and if you are ready to invest the time and effort, they will do the same.”
THE PATH AHEAD
As Nnabuihe prepares for his next chapter, one thing is clear: his passion for finding solutions to problems that will contribute positively to humanity. In particular, honing in on the growing world population.
“We are eventually going to face water and food shortages. I have a strong desire to try and find ways to mitigate this harsh reality,” he says. “Water quality and food security are the two areas I am passionate about—what I want to focus my future and career on.
“I have always had the mindset of giving back to my community, and making an impact to the world in a positive light.
“My parents are to thank for instilling that mindset within me from day one. Dr. Murch and Dr. Perry are to thank for giving me the tools to succeed.”
—by May Li