In March 2018, Javier Barreto-Gomez received the “Outstanding Leader in the Faculty of Arts” award for his contributions to the Department of Political Science and the Faculty of Arts. During his time at UBC, Javier furthered the work of the Political Science Students’ Association by introducing a variety of events and activities, including the addition of a VP Equity & Inclusion position within the executive team. Outside the scope of the department, Javier supported new students through orientation activities and mobilized 292 UBC students to collect donations for the Syrian Refugee Crisis, which led to over $7,500 in funding.
We asked him to reflect on some of his most meaningful UBC experiences and share some parting words of wisdom for fellow Arts students.
Hometown: Bogota, Colombia
Program of Study: Major in Political Science, Minor in Health & Society
UBC Affiliations: UBC Political Science Students’ Association, UBC Orientations, Destination UBC, UBC WorkLearn.
Awards: Ann Liisa McCutcheon Memorial Award, Bhagwan Kaur wife of Gokal Singh of Halwara Award in Arts, British Columbia Government Scholarship, The Loblaw Scholarship, RBC Diversity Scholarship – CAMSC, Fresh Voices Award in ‘Immigration’.
Where can we connect with you? You can find me on LinkedIn or Instagram (@javierbg604).
How did you choose your academic program?
As a matter of fact, I was admitted into UBC through the Faculty of Science and was on track to pursue a degree in Biology. However after my two years there, I realized that my passion for proactive action and healthcare policy was being ignored and I could not see myself working in a lab setting for the rest of my life.
I switched over to pursue a Political Science degree at the end of my second year and was immediately fascinated with the topics and level of analysis we were expected to conduct. I truly believe that the faculty members in the Department of Political Science are amongst the best in the world. I am especially fond of Professor Allen Sens, easily the best lecturer at UBC.
What makes a great Arts student leader?
In my opinion, there are no specific paths that determine whether someone can be a great Arts student leader. We come from all backgrounds, experiences, and areas of study. If I were to give one piece of advice however, it would be to get involved. In my experience, my involvement with UBC Programming throughout the years not only rewarded me with newfound friends but also with a deeper connection to the staff at UBC. Another role that helped me was my participation in the UBC Political Science Students’ Association, which I joined immediately after entering the Faculty of Arts. I worked my way up from Executive Assistant, to Vice President, and finally my election as President in my final year. These roles helped shaped me as an Arts leader but more importantly, allowed me to enrich the academic experience of my peers and bring pride to my home department. As President, I was able to bring world-class speakers for my peers to enjoy including Ivy League Scholar Michael Doyle, UBC President Santa Ono, and UN Human Rights Officer Christian Courtis.
What are the top three things every UBC Arts student should do before they graduate?
- Get involved: No matter what major you are in, you most likely have a student association that is there to advocate for you and hold events such as speaker nights and networking nights! You should aim to attend these events as they’re tailored for students in your major; it’s also a great way to make new friends with similar interests.
- Block Party: This advice isn’t exclusive to UBC Arts students, but it is completely worth it. Go to the AMS Block Party at least once, even if you don’t like the lineup. It’s a really great way to end the year, especially if you bring friends!
- Explore courses: UBC offers so many fascinating courses both within and outside of the Faculty of Arts. I recommend that you take an elective in something you are curious about, sometimes it can inspire you to take a minor degree in that subject!
If you had the chance to re-start your UBC experience, what would you do differently?
I honestly do not think that I would change anything about my UBC experience. I feel lucky that I was able to experience not 1 but 3 faculties (Sciences, Arts, and Sauder) and was able to take courses spanning a multitude of topics from Political Science courses thru to the School of Population and Public Health.
What’s next for you?
As I am in the B+MM dual degree program, I will be commencing my Master of Management degree at the Sauder School of Business in June 2018. This will keep be occupied for this summer, after which I plan to either work at UBC Hospital or elsewhere, as well as travel for part of 2019. As much as I’d like to work in Vancouver, I am open to working elsewhere in Canada or abroad; I’m excited to see where life will take me. One of my goals in life is to travel to every country in the world at least once, so I plan checking off some countries in 2019. Later on I am considering completing a BSc as well as a Masters of Public Health.