Finding opportunities in academics and extracurricular activities
September 6, 2016
Okanagan (Kelowna, BC)
“The opportunities to get involved have been limitless. I’ve really been able to grow a lot.”
WHEN BLAKE EDWARDS FIRST CAME TO UBC OKANAGAN, he was fully set on becoming a cardiologist. After just one year of study, however, he realized that his true interests lie in the arts, not the sciences. That’s when he discovered History and Political Science.
“I decided to do a double major because I found that History laid the foundation and fostered what I was learning in Political Science,” he says. “They are so interconnected and complementary to each other, that I knew I couldn’t do one without the other.”
As Edwards moved through his undergraduate degree, he found opportunities both in academics and extracurricular activities that allowed him to design his own unique educational experience. Add to that his new role of President of the UBC Students’ Union Okanagan (UBCSUO), after winning the 2016 students’ election.
Through his honours thesis, Edwards is exploring the history of the environmental movement in the Okanagan Valley; and through a directed studies project, he is examining the Canadian Environmental Policy degradation in a free-trade context.
Edwards also immersed himself in campus life, working with student recruitment and new student orientation events, organizing student leadership conferences, and participating in student clubs such as the Political Science Student Association, the Model United Nations, and the Student Senate Caucus.
“The opportunities to get involved have really been limitless. From academic opportunities of pursuing research to growing as a leader through clubs and course unions, to developing professionalism through campus employment, I’ve really been able to grow a lot.”
A TASTE OF EXPERIENCE
For Edwards, the time invested out of the classroom is important, but engaging professors have also made the difference to the level of his learning in the classroom.
“My favourite history course was, hands down, the History of Mexico with Associate Professor Jessica Stites Mor,” says Edwards. “She taught the course as a cultural history class where we learned about the political, economic, and historical side of the country.
“In addition to teaching, Professor Stites Mor also included experiential learning through class creation of a Day of the Dead altar and tasting authentic Mexican cuisine at a local restaurant,” which aligned with one of the readings, ¡Que Vivan Los Tamales! Food and the Making of Mexican Identity.
MORE THAN A NUMBER
“I’ve been fortunate to intertwine my interest in the environment with academics,” says Edwards.
“This year, as a residence advisor, I helped start up the Sustainable Leadership Community, and through the Summer Scholars Program last year, I was able to help lead 33 students from 16 different high schools through an on-campus environmental science course.”
Edwards says the level of interaction with his professors, and the opportunities to get involved on campus have allowed him to create his own unique educational experience.
“At UBCO, I get to be more than a number.”
—by Deanna Roberts