Monday’s can be tough – but nothing helps start the week like another alumni showcase! Expanding on previous interviews that focused on their general experience as student leaders, we are very excited to begin featuring our past member executives weighing in and offering insight on various areas of importance to our membership – program development, industry and career profiles, methodologies, to name a few – through interviews that highlight their contributions and insight on these key subjects.

Today is all about initiatives, and who better to start things off then Simon Bullock, CABS VP Finance! At the University of British Columbia Okanagan, the Finance major with a minor in Economics had done it all – Management Student Association VP Finance, Student Union Director, University Senator, Research Assistant, Teaching Assistant, and RA. As someone who’s University experience was defined by student involvement, Simon desired to leave something behind to help inspire future students to follow a similar path. The result was the University of British Columbia Student Union Okanagan (UBCSUO) Service Award, a celebration of extra-curricular achievement.

Thanks for agreeing to talk about the UBCSUO Service Award with us! Please give us a general description about the program.

Thanks for the opportunity! The award highlights outstanding campus and community engagement, and is valued at $30,000 – it’s the first endowment of it’s kind at UBC that recognizes students’ contributions to the student body over the course of their time at the university. A new winner is awarded $1000 annually, based on a selection exclusively based on their non-academic initiatives to make the university a more lively, inclusive, and vibrant community.

Why is the award important? What makes it worth the investment?

It’s the student leaders that create on-campus initiatives to connect the student body and make the university a dynamic and fun place to learn and grow. We need these leaders in our community to add vitality to the academic year, to build community, and to break up the persistent onslaught of academic pressures students face. These students really build the undergraduate experience, and they deserve the investment into their continued growth.

Describe the engagement and feedback that the award inspires on campus. Has it been changed or modified in any way since its inception?

Simon: The first recipient was awarded in 2014, and as an award endowed with UBC, is not easily modified, which was my intent. Students are enthusiastic about the opportunity to have their work recognizes and feel that their efforts have value to the community, and I think it’s helped inspire and motivate students to do even more.

Is there any particular aspect of the award that you think is instrumental to its continued success? For other organizations looking to implement something similar, what are the most important details to consider?

The award is successful because everybody wants to be recognized for their sweat, passion, and contributions to the university. Student involvement can be a thankless task, but this award is designed to be an emphatic “THANK YOU” for all they have done for UBC.

In general, what advice might you have for other ambitious student executives who aspire to introduce a new service for their students? How can you ensure sustainability?

Building any kind of legacy project takes time and effort. There are hurdles to overcome, and often layers of bureaucracy, meetings, and more bureaucracy to deal with. To make something meaningful and lasting, it’s going to require buy-in from all parties involved. Balance parties’ agendas to find the best outcome and then embed your ideas in institutions.

Interested in learning more about Simon and the UBCSUO Service Award? Check out the following feature by Kelowna’s own Class Magazine here.

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