Generocksity Vice-President and Jump Start Programs Leader: Maya Zwang

This week we caught up with Maya Zwang, an extremely involved student at UBC who is one of the vice-presidents of Generocksity - a blooming non-profit organization that was created only a few years ago by UBC students. We were able to ask the 4th year Psychology student about her involvement with Generocksity, her passion for helping new students make new connections as a part of UBC Orientations, and to top it all off, sisterhood in sororities!

Generocksity was started in 2013 by another fellow UBC student Zeke Blumenkrans, who volunteers for Canuck Place Children’s Hospice. After the passing of one of his friends with whom he was extremely close at Canuck Place, “Zeke gathered a bunch of his friends and decided to do a benefit concert for Canuck Place Children's Hospice to raise money and [gain] closure about his departed friend. What started out as a one-time event quickly evolved into a full blown non-profit organization.”  

“We realized that there is a huge demographic of college students who want to give back but do not know how,” Maya says, “Generocksity is about making philanthropy accessible to students.” Every dollar spent through $10 tickets and $4 karma shots goes straight to charity, “You are able to make an evening more than just a night out.” Since their initial launch, they have raised over $30,000 for various charitable organizations. Each year their team grows, “[Generocksity] hopes to continue expanding through different type of events and reach [out] to even more demographics at UBC! We want to inspire other students to create their own "Generocksity" and continue expanding to different campuses (they are also currently at Queen's, and McMaster University).

In addition to Maya’s involvement with Generocksity, she also works alongside other student leaders and UBC staff for the Orientations and Jump Start programs. She has used some of her past experiences, including attending Jump Start in her first year, to help other students transition from high school to university. “I think you learn quite a bit about yourself during transition periods and are able to grow, but sometimes guidance is helpful. Many students come to Vancouver for the first time upon their entry to UBC and I wanted to be a part of helping students adjust to their new lives here.”

“The Jump Start program has a way of bringing people together in a way that I have never seen before.” Her favourite part about being a part of Orientations is “watching the connections that students make and the confidence they gain by attending [these programs].”

If you thought organizing events for a non-profit organization and working with the university’s transition programs was already a lot, Maya is also a part of the UBC Sororities. We asked her why she chose her house (Alpha Delta Pi) in particular, and she recalled the conversations she had with her sorority during her recruitment, “I remember the time flew by every time I chatted with them and better yet, I didn't want to leave...I knew that the girls that were around me were going to push me to be the best I could be during my time at university and beyond; which is something they continue to do every single day.”

She believes that the Greek system is often misunderstood and seen in a negative light. “We are passionate. We are involved. We are leaders. I would not have had the confidence or support to help with Generocksity, be a part of Jump Start or continue with as many involvements as I do without the amazing women I call my sisters by my side. If I ever need anything, ranging from someone to listen at the end of a long day, or someone who will give me a ride somewhere if I am running late, I know I have 100 girls who are ready to help at any moment. I don't think people realize how strong the bonds are.”

How does Maya manage school and extracurriculars (in other words, does she sleep?!) Her answer: “My mother asks me the exact same thing! To be honest, it depends on the week. At the moment I am completely swamped, but I really don't sleep too much.” Though grades and studying are important, she believes “there is so much more to university. […] It has taken me a while to realize that an extra 2% is not going to change your life and I would rather have all of my involvements and get decent grades than have no involvements and get 100’s.” It helps that the Psychology student is constantly amazed by and loves what she’s studying, “When people ask, 'Why are you studying psychology?' I usually respond with 'So I can learn why you're asking me why I study psychology.' There are so many factors that make up each person and I love *geeking* out over each of those factors.”

A defining moment in her life since attending UBC is her acceptance to go on exchange. Her celebrations were taken over by a realization: “It was a little bit scarier when I realized what actually leaving UBC meant but in that single moment I experienced so much pure joy...The scary part is most of [the time for growth in our lives] lay outside of our comfort zones.” Maya has learned that “when those opportunities come up, embrace them. There's no harm in being a little uncomfortable from time to time.”

What is her advice for students who want to get involved across campus and in their communities? “There is more to joining something than being sure it makes you happy. Your involvements should ultimately bring you joy but also take hard work, focus and a lot of time. There will be moments when you are stressed or feeling down or need to study (welcome to my life!), but the end result of putting in a bit more effort is so worth it.” Maya’s advice resonates with this quote by Hugh McKay that was shown to her by Gloria Eid, the Program Lead for UBC Jump Start.

We did not shy away from asking Maya ‘the golden question’, which we ourselves have often been asked by our peers, family members and mentors: “Where do you see yourself after graduation (which is next year!)?”

“My absolute DREAM would be to graduate, find a place in [Kitsilano] and start working full time for UBC. There are so many people that help make this university what it is and I want to help. I want students to know the potential they can reach while at UBC, and all the resources that are in place to help students through the stress of midterms, finals, crises and job searches.”

The Seattle native hopes to be living this dream of “an amazing job helping students (like the ones reading this!) reach new heights” in one year from now, and “potentially with a hedgehog ([she] can't commit to a dog yet but that is somewhere down the road)”, she adds.

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Find out more about Generocksity here, and come out to their upcoming event on October 17th at Fortune Sound Club, which will be benefiting the South Sudan International Youth Ambassadors (SSIYA)