Our faculty is proud to be home to the School of Nursing, School of Health and Exercise Sciences, and School of Social Work, where our students are the most important part of what we do.
Meet Melody Kuban—Human Kinetics student, fitness enthusiast, and bucket-list master. She took time out of her busy schedule to tell us in her own words about life as a UBC student.
FHSD: What was the last picture you took on your phone?
KUBAN: This question could not have better timing because the last photo taken on my phone is a mind-blowing shot that I somehow managed to capture of my leg striking the sky while I was dancing in the Hangar. I began competitively dancing at a young age and unfortunately had to quit due to injury. But since then, I’ve been a long-distance runner, then a triathlete, then a barbell-lovin’ gym-junky, then a cyclist… a kick-boxer, a group fitness freak, a couch potato, a yogi, and now, my love for dance has re-surfaced. I didn’t know at the time, but that distressing injury lead me to fall in love with so many details of life – details I may have never experienced without it. Heck, that injury was what opened my mind’s eye into the realization that health was my passion, and it was what ultimately brought me here to UBC Okanagan for Human Kinetics. It really is true what they say: one day, you’re going to look back on your life and understand that times of excruciating pain were vital stepping stones guiding you into the rest of your life.
What is your favorite place to study or work at UBCO?
KUBAN: Hands down the Arts Atrium! There aren’t many things that can enhance the act of studying until your mind feels numb, but nature sure has a way of doing just that. Whether I need some quiet alone time, a quick power nap, or to get serious about working, hiding away on a comfortable couch behind a tremendous tree is my happy place. I just need to remember to ensure that my earphones are plugged in before I press that space bar on Netflix.
Why did you choose to pursue a career in Human Kinetics?
KUBAN: As I mentioned earlier, my injury was ultimately the precursor to my university studies. I was always interested in sports and being active as a child, but after my injury, I was out for about a year. In that time, however, I travelled alongside my mom as her cheerleader to all of her races. At one point, we made it to the States where we spent a 16 hour day watching the Lake Placid Iron Man – it was exhausting (and, we were just clapping). I remember the distinct moment where an athlete, looking like she was about to drop dead, shot me a heart-throbbing smile as I screamed her name in encouragement, and suddenly found the power inside of her to start running faster. It was that very moment where I knew that I wanted to cheer people on for the rest of my life.
I soon after fell in love with health and fitness and read almost every book imaginable about every factual or controversial health matter. For me, Human Kinetics is the epitome of passion. It not only gets my heart pounding (both literally and figuratively), but lucky for me, it skips the basic science of “memorize-the-fact-that-this-atom-has-this-many-electrons” and jumps right into how that electron directly works with your muscle contraction, your metabolism, and your mentality. I will forever be grateful for how this unique program continues to feed my love for health and my energy for life every single day. I look at all of us soul-searching individuals and know that deep down we’re all just complex blobs of energy, desperate to find that “thing” that sends fire of passion through our bones. That’s what health and fitness is for me; and with that, I want to spend every waking day helping others find their fire too.
Name the next item on your bucket list you are going to cross off?
KUBAN: Believe it or not, I have actually started a bucket list! And, thanks to UBCO, I’ve knocked off an immense handful of items in the past two years of being here such as complete a multi-day hike; rock climb a mountain face; swim underneath a frozen lake; run a full marathon; learn to salsa dance; spend a night in an igloo; change someone’s life; be a subject in an exercise experiment; the list goes on… A huge shout-out to all of the wonderful people and to all of the clubs and course unions at UBCO that have made these bucket list dreams a reality! But on a serious note, as for the next item I will be crossing off, I honestly believe that it will be truly loving who I am. Mind you, I don’t think I will ever cross it off because learning to love the skin you’re in is a life journey, not a one-time, hit-or-miss thing. Something as vital and life-changing as this is a process that we work toward and build upon every day for our entire lives. But with this intention in mind, I’ve been walking a very different path this year and it’s been both terrifying and intriguing at the same time. It’s a huge transformation that I am still unable to translate into words, but each day I learn something new about myself or I encounter an experience —big or small— that is a step in the right direction. And to all of those individuals who can relate, a round of applause to you! Learning to truly love our authentic selves is often swept under the rug, but I sincerely believe it is an aspiration that needs to be at the top of so many more bucket lists.
What do you know now, that you didn’t when started your degree at UBCO?
KUBAN: For a week, my head ran in circles when trying to answer this question. I could say something like, “I’ve learned that Lactate Dehydrogenase is the enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of pyruvate to lactate” (waddup metabolism); I could expand upon how fibroblasts secrete mitogens in times of wounds (holla patho!); but I won’t.
Instead, I’ll say this:
I’ve learned that there are always worlds more to a person than we ever give them credit for, which is why it’s so important to be nothing but compassionate toward everyone. I’ve learned that I don’t have value because of over-involvement or putting others before me, but simply because I am me. I’ve learned that my mom is my best friend, and that distance truly does make the heart grow fonder. I’ve learned that growing into adulthood is not for wimps. It’s hard. It’s mentally and emotionally exhausting, but it’s also wondrously beautiful. I've learned that the hardest part about learning a life lesson is the ability to break a habit that no longer serves you so that you can become a better you; and this realization can lead me into an intimate relationship, whether it be friendship or romantic, and that still terrifies me. I’ve learned about the undeniable importance that is the path of authenticity and that each of our paths are completely different from anyone else's. And, it can get pretty lonely a lot of the time. But staying loyal to your journey even when others abandon theirs will benefit you in ways you cannot even fathom at this moment. I’ve learned that every baby-step we take in life, no matter how high or low it makes us feel at the time, is valuable to our growth; every bump in the road is either a mountain to challenge you, or a speed bump to guide you, but there is no such thing as a bump that damages you. Because every difficulty helps us become better versions of ourselves. One day we're going to understand that our entire struggle was happening for a reason. And I’ve learned that by keeping this thought in mind as we go through our darker times —like heartbreak, failure and loneliness— it doesn't seem so scary. Because after all, every terrifying, stumbling step we come across in life may only be the tip of the iceberg, but it is driving us into absolute greatness.