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2020 Enrollment Management Financial Aid First-year Other-year Orientation and related Excellence Award Winner: Julie Foran, Tara Drage and the University of British Columbia’s Scholars Community (Vancouver Campus)
Renewable major entrance award recipients are required to meet specific criteria each year to maintain their award and face pressure from the expectations of the “scholar” label: expectations to be community leaders, to excel academically, to pursue career and networking opportunities, and to act as ambassadors for their affiliated institution. These pressures are not common to other undergraduates or non-renewable award recipients. While scholars may face the expectation of success from multiple sources (family, peers, the institution, and themselves), solely giving scholars financial support does not address the multi-faceted needs of these students (personal well-being, need for community belonging, need for career development opportunities, etc.). In response to these realities, the university has demonstrated its responsibility to provide holistic support to this population through a dedicated scholars’ community.
UBC’s Scholars Community is designed to offer these students a variety of professional workshops and community events that students can join, provide different creative and strategic committees they can have an impact within and provide a safe and encouraging space for the students to reach their full potential, taking into account the unique interests, responsibilities and particular challenges that students in the community face. Scholars have the opportunity to network with each other and industry representatives, connect with likeminded students through peer to peer support, access opportunities to meet the needs of award recipients, participate in a peer mentor program, access workshops and events that address the transition both into and beyond undergraduate education at UBC and shape the direction of the community itself through student-run committees and leadership councils. It is through the Scholars Community that UBC is fostering an environment where students are more likely to succeed
and achieve their academic goals, thus ensuring a more sustainable model for student scholarships and advancing the pivotal role of Student Affairs plays in student finances as well as student success.
Unique Student Program and Offerings
The Scholars Community hosts unique events and opportunities throughout the year for current students in the program, as well as welcome programming for prospective students with major renewable awards. Here are some examples:
Peer Mentorship Program
Lower year scholars are matched and mentored by upper-year scholars, who support them in navigating campus and campus life, UBC culture, and other helpful resources. The program aims to help give incoming students a friendly face from day one in order for them to make the most out of their UBC experience. Lower year scholars are matched and mentored by upper-year scholars, who support them in navigating campus and campus life, UBC culture, and other helpful resources.
Student Common Room
The Common Room is a big bright and spacious area equipped with ample table seating, group meeting rooms, bean bag chairs, and comfy couches. This dedicated space for studying is exclusive to scholars on two weeknights, making the common space easy and accessible for scholars to come and find some downtime amongst the hustle and bustle of students all over campus. In addition, the Common Room also hosts several study rooms for quiet study, workplaces in the main space for scholars to work on projects together, as well as a variety of snacks and coffee. The Common Room is a space that helps build community grounding, promotes informal connections and academic excellence.
The Scholars Breakfast is a yearly event held in April for incoming scholars to get an in-person glimpse of life at UBC, as part of the larger ‘UBC Welcomes You’ programming. Each year, scholars from various award portfolios are invited to attend the welcome breakfast with their friends and family. In order to gain an invitation to this event, students are required to have accepted their offer of admission to UBC.
Guests of the breakfast are introduced to the community through the stories and materials presented by current scholars, and a welcome address from the Registrar. This is an opportunity for students to start building relationships with current student scholars in their faculty and staff and learn more about the Scholars Community.
Speaking and Networking Program
This program is aimed to allow scholars, faculty, and alumni to share their scholarship experience at UBC with UBC donors. For this, the Scholars Community works closely with UBC Development and Alumni Engagement to offer more opportunities for scholars to network and explore their public speaking skills.
For instance, last December, several scholars who are a part of the Student Speaking and Networking Opportunities program were invited to a donor networking event at UBC President and Vice Chancellor Santa J. Ono’s home. It was an opportunity for scholars to share their scholarship experience with the donors and faculty deans in the room. With new insight on how impactful their support has been to students in the scholarship community, being able to network with students in the scholarship program at UBC was truly a highlight for attendees that night.
The Magazine Committee is a student-led annual magazine that is exclusively made up of scholars in the program, who take care of the writing, editing, and design of the publication that is then printed at the end of each academic year. Students on the committee touch base monthly to brainstorm, design, plan, and peer edit the content. The magazine aims to highlight the previous years’ community events, programs and scholars and is presented to incoming UBC domestic scholars at the Scholars Breakfast.
Professional and Community Events
The Scholars Community hosted a variety of fun events in the Common Room, which includes weekly study nights running every Thursday, the Fall welcome back Cupcake Social in September, a Harry Potter Halloween Movie Night in October with pizza and popcorn, a festive and snow-themed holiday Cocoa, Contest and Charity event in November, a night of delicious Thai cuisine and trivia in January, and a spring de-stressing social, Midterm Time Outin March—where scholars gulped down bubble tea, played games and built terrariums.
The Scholars Community has provided so many resources. You have people you can always reach out to if you need help or if you just want some advice, anything like that. I think it is a really unique way to bring together so many different people with so many different life experiences and interests. We are all here not only to learn, but to lead at UBC too. It has been really great meeting all these people and being a part of this inclusive community. You are coming in from all different places to this one family on campus. I have also made so many connections with people, whether they are in my faculty, in my building, or we just have common interests. So, it is also a really great way to make friends and have a community to lean on.
- First-Year Arts Student, Loran Recipient
I think the term ‘Scholars’ is pretty fitting, but I would describe [the Scholars Community] as a small cohort of students on campus who can lean on each other, and who share similar expectations with each other, both academically and personally. In one word, I would definitely describe it as “empowering.”
- Second-Year Arts Student, Loran Recipient
The Scholars Community has given me such a great opportunity to be able to pursue the education that I want. I’m also grateful for the people that we meet in this community. It was really important that the
experiences I got that I would be able to give them back to someone else [through the mentorship program as a mentor].
- Fourth-Year Science Student, Centennial Scholars Recipient