If you have been involved in any way at UBC over the last five years, it is very possible that you have come to know, or learned the name, of this week’s campus celebrity.
Olivia Yung has been a part of many dimensions of student life on UBC’s campus during her undergraduate degree, including (but not limited to): UBC Residence Hall Association, UBC Dance Club, UBC Residence Life, UBC Student Leadership Conference Planning Committee, AMS Services, and UBC Recreation Intramurals. Presently, Olivia has been working behind the scenes on her newest project, #applyforeverything. “#applyforeverything is a Facebook page aimed at consolidating involvement opportunities on campus and sharing them with people to help them find their niche!” says Olivia, describing her initiative that has made finding involvement opportunities at UBC infinitely easier for its thousands of followers.
Growing up in Calgary, Alberta with her family had a great influence on how Olivia grew and developed into the current person she is at UBC. She says that her parents had an “insane work ethic and a real passion for learning which they instilled in me.” She also notes that, “it was cool trying to be a good role model for [her younger brother], so that drove [her] to be the best [she] could be, so that [her] brother would have a foundation to work off of.”
I asked Olivia what her thoughts are leading to her graduation this coming May after five years at UBC and switching out of the Faculty of Science part-way through her degree, “I realized after my second year though that I didn’t want to be a doctor – and that maybe it was a dream I was trying to live out for my parents.” The personal struggle that accompanied this decision was not easy for Olivia, nor would it be for anyone. However, what so often defines Olivia’s character is her ability to visualize the opportunities and positive aspects of any situation – and she always does it with her signature Olivia smile and a “there, there, friend!”
“Overall, I am happy with my degree and the faculty that I chose in the end which is the Global Resource Systems program in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems. Although I don’t want to pursue a career in the field I studied, I have really enjoyed the topics I’ve learnt and the people I’ve met in my program.”
This campus celebrity has plenty going on – beyond her schoolwork and #applyforeverything – with her other roles on campus. As a part of the Program Development team with UBC Recreation Intramurals, Olivia coordinates community opportunities for student staff in the program (volunteering at the Musqueam Community Centre, Professional Development Summits, Reading Week Projects, Career Tours, etc…) and maintains a presence in the program for its 120 Directors and Assistant Directors. In her current executive position as Gala Chair with the UBC Dance Club, she is responsible for planning the club’s largest event of the year – UBC Gala Ball, the qualifying competition for Canada – and ensuring that in its 53rd year, it is a huge success!
Looking back on her time at UBC, I wondered what Olivia’s first-year self might think of the Olivia that UBC knows and loves today. She believes that first-year Olivia would “not have believed” that she would be the President of the UBC Dance Club in her third year with no previous dance experience. That same Olivia would have laughed if told that she would one day be passionate about marketing and advertising, noting, “It’s crazy how much my dreams, goals, aspirations, and perceptions of things have changed over the past five years.” What might Olivia tell that first-year version of herself if she had the chance? Beyond possibly proposing the exploration of other faculties, her UBC experience is not something she regrets whatsoever. Although, “MAYBE I would have told my first year self to make a Storm the Wall team in my first year, or find Sprouts earlier,” she adds with a chuckle.
The opportunities after graduation are boundless for Olivia, but she does have plans to pursue her passions for marketing through a human resources, communications, or marketing job, or through a Marketing and Communications program at BCIT; her hope is to embark on a career in advertising in the future. In looking ahead to that future as she nears her transition from UBC, Olivia shares her thoughts on the impact she has had at UBC, she hopes that she would have given others the “confidence to apply for things even if it seems out of their comfort zone, because every experience is a fun learning opportunity, and that we [at UBC] are a community of students here to support one another in each other’s individual endeavours.”