"It’s my hope that the initiatives we are working on today in Applied Science result in more students bringing their Indigenous identities to UBC."
- Degree: Bachelor of Applied Science
- Grad year: 2020
- Program: Civil Engineering
- Campus: Vancouver
I was born and raised in Kamloops, BC but my roots come from Castelfranco Veneto in Italy and the Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation in Ontario. My father immigrated to BC while my mom moved to BC after finishing teacher’s college. They met and settled outside Merritt, BC before planting permanent roots in Kamloops. My dad is a masonry contractor, which meant my two brothers, my sister and I all had the pleasure of “working” in the family business. It was at a young age that I developed my appreciation for building, but it wasn’t until after completing a degree in physics and working in the family business that I returned to school to study engineering. The decision to change careers and move was shared with my wife and daughter, and while it hasn’t been without its challenges, we call Vancouver our home now and UBC is our community.
Why did you choose to go into your field of study at UBC?
I chose civil engineering because it combines my interest in construction and sciences. UBC Vancouver was a logical choice for our family because we have family and friends in Vancouver, and the UBC Civil Engineering program was highly recommended. I completed my first year of engineering in Kamloops at Thompson Rivers University and felt the transfer program prepared me for the rigors of second year civil engineering at UBC.
What has made your time at UBC memorable?
Sharing this experience with my family has been wonderful and its only with their support that I made it through in one piece. Living in family housing on campus allows us all to feel a part of the UBC community.
What has been your most valuable non-academic experience studying at UBC?
My plan was to complete my degree and move into industry as fast as possible. Along the way I met individuals who influenced my path in immeasurable ways. I held a Work Learn position for two years supporting Indigenization initiatives within Applied Science and it was this role that changed my priorities. This role didn’t change my professional aspirations, but it did demonstrate the potential change one can have within an organization if they advocate for what is important to oneself.
Tell us about your experience in your program. What have you learned that is most valuable?
Civil engineering offers many options. As one moves through the program, you are exposed to the various fields within civil engineering. Additionally, I spent a semester volunteering in a materials lab which investigates alternative concrete materials and I completed a directed study in project management which offered me the opportunity to try the research field. These experiences led me to decide on pursuing a MASc. The most valuable experiences for me were collaborative projects that require a combination of trust, dedication and humility.
How are you applying the skills you learned through your studies at UBC?
I am building on my undergraduate degree as I start my Master of Applied Science in the area of project and construction management. The MASc program will allow me to pursue my passion for building while I develop the additional competencies required of project managers.
What advice would you give a student entering your degree program?
Keep your eyes open for opportunities and be prepared to act on them. Your studies can consume you if you don’t keep them in perspective and it’s the extracurricular experiences you’ll remember most. The semesters fly by, although at times it may not seem like it. The clubs, design teams and other activities offer opportunities to challenge yourself and make meaningful connections with other students, staff and faculty.
How do you feel your degree has benefitted you compared to a different field of study?
I appreciate how engineering applies science in tangible ways. My degree in physics always seemed theoretical and separated from the real world. The outcomes of engineering projects can be immediate and gratifying.
Where do you find your inspiration?
The decision to return to school was made as a family because it meant relocating. Balancing a heavy course load with family responsibilities is challenging, and at times both suffer. It’s only with the support and encouragement of my wife Jewell and daughter Cicada that I succeeded.
What are your immediate and/or long-term plans for the future?
I started my MASc in May which will keep us at UBC for two more years. In that time, I plan to continue contributing to Applied Science’s Indigenization and EDI initiatives. Once in industry, I will seek a project management role that will challenge me.
What are your future plans to make a difference in our world?
I will continue to encourage Indigenous youth to pursue careers in STEM fields and it’s my hope that the initiatives we are working on today in Applied Science result in more students bringing their Indigenous identities to UBC.