Camile Oliveira: Outstanding Leader in the Faculty of Arts

Camile Oliveira is the 2019 recipient of the Outstanding Leader in the Faculty of Arts award.

Hometown: Manaus, Brazil / Vancouver, Canada
Program of Study: International Relations
UBC Affiliations: International Relations Students Association, Journal of International Affairs
UBC Awards: Bhagwan Kaur wife of Gokal Singh of Halwara Award in Arts, Trek Excellence Scholarship
How can we connect with you? Instagram: @camileclaros

Why did you choose your academic program of study?
In my first year I did the CAP Program in the Economics, Philosophy, Political Science, and Economics stream. At that time, I did not know which major I would pick, but a lot of students spoke highly about the International Relations program.

Having moved here from Brazil, I was interested in international development and social inequality, and the IR major had courses in sociology, social justice and political science that approached the same topic through different lenses. I saw that as a valuable opportunity to gain a more all-encompassing understanding of these issues, and so IR was the perfect fit!

What are some of the meaningful experiences you’ve had at UBC?
I would say that the experience that shaped my time at UBC the most was being a part of the International Relations Students’ Association. I was part of the club for three consecutive years, and through it, I was able to plan a successful Refugee Winter Benefit Gala, lead a team of 25 people, plan speaker events on international issues, and so much more.

I was able to develop my leadership style and grow as a leader. Running a club requires a different set of skills that you can only learn outside of the classroom. I was able to talk and connect with like-minded people – many of whom continue to be my close friends today. Moreover, as a commuter student, it was hard to feel like I was part of a community at first, but being a part of IRSA allowed me to feel like I was contributing to the faculty, and that I belonged. And just like that, the IRSA office became my home away from home for three years.

What’s an important life lesson that your involvement activities have taught you?
That it is okay to ask for help. I know it sounds cliché, but more often than not, people fear that asking for help may be taken as a sign of weakness. Coming into UBC and being surrounded by some truly smart and capable people made me question myself constantly. I always felt like everyone was more capable or smarter than me. And so, in order to prove myself in the leadership roles I took on, I felt the need to single-handedly manage numerous responsibilities at once. I soon found this was not sustainable and that I needed help with completing certain tasks. I was surprised by how willing others are to help and provide support, and how so much more can be accomplished with other people’s input.

Camile and Dean of Arts Gage Averill at the 2019 Dean’s Reception for Graduating Student Leaders.

You recently received a 2019 Outstanding Leader Award. What does it mean to be a great Arts student leader?
Being genuine and open to connecting with people is one of the most important. Once you start listening to people’s experiences and opinions, you will become a more inclusive and open-minded leader, who is receptive to learning from others.

I also think that a great Arts student is frank about their own intentions behind getting involved with an initiative or club. If one becomes involved in something they are passionate about, they will be a much more committed leader. All of my involvements at UBC have been with something I was interested in, and that I was willing to put my time and effort into. This commitment shows through the work, which then inspires others. People can tell when one is genuinely committed to an initiative, or when they are there just to have one more experience to put on a resume. Being a great leader is about knowing that being involved, creating something on campus, being a part of a team all goes beyond resume-building. It is about making an impact while building meaningful connections.

What’re the top three things that every Arts student should try before they graduate?

  1. Have some sort of international experience! That could be either through exchange, or through an International Service Learning course. You learn so much from going abroad, and it really is an opportunity to expand your horizons, find other interests and meet people.
  2. Join a club! As I said, joining IRSA turned out to be one of the best experiences of my degree, and not only did I learn useful, transferable skills, but I also made my closest friendships at UBC through it.
  3. Research! Reach out to professors for any research opportunities, even if they do not have any available at the moment, they could always refer you to someone who does. Also, if you are looking to publish something before you graduate, don’t forget about student journals like Journal of International Affairs, or Journal of Political Science.

Camile at the International Relations Students Association booth at Imagine Day.


If you had the chance to re-start your UBC experience, what would you do differently?
I would have taken more time to get to know my professors. I always felt so intimidated to go to office hours! There have been many professors that I thought were amazing, and whose research I found incredibly interesting, and yet I always told myself I was “too busy” to go to their office, or that I had nothing smart to say. So, if I could re-start my UBC experience, I would have dragged myself (and a friend) to all of my professors’ offices, and just introduced myself. Once you realize that professors are regular people who happen to be very knowledgeable about a topic, talking to them becomes way less intimidating.

What’s next for you?
In the summer, I will be a Research Assistant for Dr. Erin Baines, where I, along with two other students, will analyze a set of life history interviews conducted with former combatants to the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). After that, I am planning on taking some time off to travel before hopefully pursuing a Master’s program internationally in 2020.

Camile at the Women in House Delegation with Senator Yonah Martin.


Meet the other award winners of the 2019 Dean’s Reception for Graduating Student Leaders.