Share Your Story
We wanted to acknowledge our amazing graduating class, and give them a chance to share some of what they have overcome in order to reach this milestone achievement. Below are the road-to-graduation stories that were submitted. A random draw was done and three of the story authors have been selected to receive a prize package including a UNBC parchment frame and other goodies. We hope that you are as encouraged as we are by reading the unique stories below that represent just a few of the incredible students that we are proud to call UNBC Alumni.
Congratulations to the Class of 2020!
Allison Archibald, Bachelor of Science – Nursing
I had a BSc in Geography. I had a career in nature conservation. I loved what I did, but I wanted more. I chose the Northern Collaborative Baccalaureate Nursing Program (NCBNP) to further my education and launch me into the career of my dreams. I received my Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and I am proud to say that I am a Registered Nurse!
The four-year journey to get here was not easy. I uprooted my life in Victoria, B.C. I left my family and friends behind, and I took a chance. The community of Prince George welcomed me with open arms, and the connections I’ve made through the NCBNP have been wonderful. I would not be where I am today without the support of my family and friends, and I am eternally grateful for their love and encouragement. THANK YOU!
Brandi Blevins, Bachelor of Science – Nursing
Four years have flown by, I write this today as a graduate of UNBC and as a Registered Nurse. This program was rigorous with many unexpected challenges.
There were times I never thought I would make it but with strength and perseverance here I stand, a graduate.
I put out a special thank-you to my support system throughout these years from my parents and partner, to Grandparents to Aunts, to cousins and everyone in between. I am beyond thrilled to explore the health care field and eager to see where my career as a nurse will take me.
Danielle Esmeijer, Bachelor of Science - Nursing
My nursing degree journey started in 2013 with my move to Prince George from Vancouver. This was my first time being this far away from home and I could not have anticipated how this journey would shape me.
I came to Prince George both for my education and to live at a calmer pace in a smaller city. Transitioning into a full-time degree after working two jobs took a lot of patience. Although nursing is my passion I faced many difficulties academically and I did not receive the initial outcome I was hoping for.
With each failure the pressure to quit haunted me, but at the same time it drove me to work harder and not give up. After six long years I am ecstatic to say that I am a Registered Nurse! And now as a new mom to be I am beyond grateful for all the lessons I’ve learned.
Jesmeen Kaur Deo, Bachelor of Science – Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
I attended UNBC from 2014-2017 before I was accepted to UBC’s Northern Medical Program. Through Regulation 28, I hoped to still graduate with my BSc while in med school. However, months before the 2019 convocation, I became aware that I was still missing some credits. I cancelled my grad photos and registered in more coursework.
Now, I'm entering my fourth and final year of medical school and looking forward to the long-awaited moment of receiving my parchment. The incredible classes I took at UNBC and the people I met in the community changed my perspective and taught me things I never expected to learn. The degree is symbolic of that.
Throughout this journey people have asked me time and time again: “You’re in med school, why are you so bent on getting your Bachelor’s degree?” To which I always reply: “Because I earned it!”
Jessica Chan, Bachelor of Applied Science in Environmental Engineering - Joint
I am honoured to achieve my dream of receiving a Bachelor's in Applied Science in Environmental Engineering.
Growing up, I have always cared strongly about the environment, and my love for nature and the outdoors mirrored that passion.
Throughout the course of this degree, I have faced many challenges, including two faculty strikes, a global pandemic, and challenges in the workforce.
I have learned much not just about environmental engineering, but about myself as a woman, an engineer, and an advocate for environmental protection. I hope that with this degree, I can effect positive change upon the current climate crisis and practice strong environmental stewardship. Congratulations on achieving your dreams, Class of 2020!
Lauren Smaha-Muir, Bachelor of Commerce - Accounting
To reach this achievement I attended three different post secondary schools including the College of New Caledonia and British Columbia Institute of Technology. And in those years also graduated with an Applied Business Technology Certificate.
While attending UNBC I had the privilege of coaching female hockey in Prince George, as well as helping out with camps in the community. I am now pursuing my Chartered Professional Accountant designation. This big milestone in my life could not have been achieved without my family and friends. Congrats to the Class of 2020!
Luizmar de Assis Barros, Master of Science – Natural Resources and Environmental Studies
My parents, although illiterate, believed in the life-changing power of education and motivated me to pursue higher education.
In 2010, after taking a national exam, I was the first in my family to enter university. Entering university opened lots of other doors to me. In 2013, I was among the few Brazilian students granted a scholarship for an exchange program. In June of the same year, I started studying at the University of Toronto.
In 2017, I decided to take the next step in my education, and that's where UNBC comes in. I started researching the school, the city, and the professors and got into a couple of interviews, and soon I was offered admission and started my two-and-a-half years MSc. journey at UNBC. I got to know and make friends with people from different backgrounds and learn a lot about old-growth forests, ecosystem services, and remote sensing.
Taylor Bateman, Bachelor of Arts – Nature Based Tourism Management
My dream was to get into grizzly bear conservation, so I majored in Wildlife and Fisheries. I found my first semester of university really difficult as I dealt with a huge academic change and being on my own for the first time.
I landed myself on academic probation in the first semester as my GPA was 0.94. I switched to the science side of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Management in hopes that would help. I ended up not being able to get my GPA up in time and was required to withdraw.
I switched to the arts side of ORTM and worked to get and keep my GPA up. I did two summer semesters and online courses in order to get myself to 2020 grad. I was told I would not make it in four years but here I am. This was not an easy journey, but I’m glad I made it and it feels amazing to have earned my bachelor’s degree.
Blessy Shenk, Bachelor of Science - Nursing
I moved to Canada in 2009 with the goal of becoming a Registered Nurse. It seemed like a simple goal at the time, but the journey ended up becoming an extreme test of my patience and trust in God.
I first had to become a permanent resident, but this process was delayed. Then I needed to do some upgrading to even apply for the program. Next some challenges in my second year made me question if I was even cut out for this profession and delayed me another year. I pushed through a very difficult third year, and was finally on the home stretch when 2020 happened. Somehow I finished and now it’s hard to believe that I’m actually a nurse. If it weren’t for the prayers of my family and friends and the support of my husband, teachers, classmates, clinical instructors and preceptors I wouldn’t be here. Thank you all!
Colton Faulconer, Bachelor of Science – Nursing
Upon graduating high school, I developed a passion for both helping others and the health sciences. After exploring psychology and sciences programs, I decided to enroll in the Bachelor of Science – Nursing program. As I progressed through the program, my interest in health and its promotion and maintenance in others steadily grew. With each year that passed, I consistently confirmed my educational and career choice. This program encouraged both professional and personal growth, as I was able to overcome personal barriers that other programs may not have pushed me to confront. My cohort’s final year was interesting provided UNBC’s strike activities in addition to the global impact of the coronavirus. However, we could not have completed our final year without the support of the University’s staff, fellow students, and those close to us. Keep up the great work everyone, best of luck in your future endeavours!
Fatemeh Namaei, Master of Arts - English
We were planning our wedding party when I found out that I got acceptance into UNBC. The news surpassed all our happiness. My husband was with me in all steps. Only three nights after our wedding party, we flew to Canada.
We were excited and nervous, but it was a great thing that we had each other for the spirit of mutual support. After meeting my professors who were so lovely and getting acquaintance with my cohorts who were so friendly, I felt so relieved.
Another exciting challenge I ran into happened when I was working on my thesis. I got pregnant. My husband had to go to another province for work and it was the most challenging time of all, but fortunately, my precious baby in my womb gave me enough strength to go through this challenge.
UNBC gave me the opportunity to achieve two significant accomplishments: being a grad and a mother.
Jéssica Cardoso, Master of Science – Natural Resources and Environment Studies – Forestry
The pursuit of graduate studies has been far out of my family’s financial means. I was just the second one in my family to obtain a Bachelor's degree and now the first one to earn a Master's degree. They are so proud. It has been a long journey, full of adventures and challenges. From not only moving from the hot (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) to the cold (Prince George, Canada) climate but also the cultural differences. I worked with a forest type that I was not familiar with. I was away from home for so long and, of course, there is the reason why we’re having this virtual ceremony. But I went through all of it. And I made it! Thanks to all the people who were there for me along this long road. I would not have achieved this goal without them.
Kiranjot Jhajj, Bachelor of Science (Honours) – Psychology
As an undergraduate student at UNBC, I encountered many triumphs and challenges. The journey towards graduation was difficult, having to push myself beyond my limits in terms of academics, as well as having to figure out who I am as a person. However, the result of this challenging time is invaluable. Throughout these years, I was able to establish my identity, create new friendships, and become engaged in meaningful causes.
At the end of this journey, I know more about who I am, what I am passionate about, and what kind of life I want to lead. I am excited to continue this journey as a Master's student at UNBC next fall!
Lejla Muratspahic, Bachelor of Education
I am a proud graduate from the Bachelor of Education program at UNBC. I first graduated from a Teachers Training College in Zenica, Bosnia, in 1998 after surviving a four-year-long Bosnian War (1992-1995). I was 16 when the war in Bosnia started. I have witnessed and experienced things that no teenager should ever experience. I only worked for two years as a teacher in Bosnia and then immigrated to Canada in 1998. Since then, I have been living, working, and raising my two boys in Quesnel, B.C., but I had one unfinished dream.
After driving on scary winter roads to Prince George and back for two years and overcoming many challenges and obstacles, I am finally a proud Canadian teacher graduate. Not very many people get to complete teaching programs twice in two different parts of the world but I just did it at the age of 44 and so can you. Never stop dreaming!
Saje Wight, Bachelor of Social Work
I grew up in a small town in Ontario. We moved to British Columbia and by 15, I was spending my time on East Hastings Street in Vancouver. I quickly became addicted to drugs and the lifestyle.
Upon moving back to Ontario, I fell into an unhealthy, abusive relationship which ended shortly after the birth of my first son, when I was 18 years old. I was fortunate to have my grandma, who showed me unconditional love and always had my back.
I moved to Prince George in 2007 and enrolled in college. I completed my Social Work Diploma in 2009. I took eight years off to work at high-risk group homes, specifically with street-entrenched male youth. I am currently employed as a Probation Officer and completed my Bachelor of Social Work degree this year.
These days, I spend my time raising my three kids with my husband.
Yuyang Zhan, Bachelor of Arts – Global and International Studies
Four years of undergraduate study create a lot of memories. As an international student, I received so much help from peers, professors, friends, and university staff. I enjoyed the time when I studied at UNBC with a lot of laughs and a lot of memories. Through achieving my personal goals with the help of UNBC, I became a better person.