Diving into student leadership helped Dela Hini discover her true passion, inspiring her to make a switch that dramatically altered her university experience – and her career aspirations
Dela Hini arrived at UBC ready to serve the greater good through work in engineering. She soon discovered, however, that the program wasn’t quite the right fit. Determined to learn more about herself, she pursued student leadership opportunities and extracurricular activities. On this new path, Dela uncovered the best way to use her talents, and found a new career path, too.
Why did you choose UBC?
I first learned about UBC when I visited my brothers, who live in the Lower Mainland. Inspired by the contemporary feel of Vancouver, I became obsessed with everything UBC and applied to the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses. I even asked my brothers to send me UBC swag as I awaited the acceptance letters! I was accepted into UBC Okanagan, and after just three days of mountain air and good company, I knew I’d found where I needed to be.
We understand you’re changing programs – what prompted that shift?
A big part of why I’m studying at university has to do with finding myself. From the moment I stepped onto campus I was trying to find myself, and did so through student leadership. As I delved into projects around human rights and poverty alleviation, I realized I was more at ease in the social sciences than in Engineering. In my first year, I took Sociology as an elective and continued on that track until I was able to switch programs.
“From the moment I stepped on campus I was trying to find myself, and have done so through student leadership.” – Dela Hini, Sociology and Political Science
Has switching programs changed your career plans?
When I started university, I knew I wanted to serve others in my future career. I initially thought that would be in the form of creating prosthetics and medical devices. Now, I want to serve others through advocacy and policy. After I complete my undergraduate degree I intend to pursue a legal education in human rights law. I’m still obsessed with all things UBC, so the Allard School of Law at UBC Vancouver is my number one choice for law school.
What appeals to you about Sociology?
I enjoy Sociology because it lets me explore the issues I thought about when I was younger. I was born in Accra, Ghana, grew up in Calgary, and briefly lived in Saudi Arabia as well. Growing up, we always had the news up on TV, and coming from an immigrant family, I was always aware of global issues. Sociology provides insight into how societies operate and the root causes of social inequality. It’s a great way to understand the spaces I take up and recognize the role I can play in alleviating those inequalities. Sociology is also a great way to apply my Engineers Without Borders (EWB) experiences, and vice versa.
Can you share a bit about your involvement with Engineers Without Borders?
It’s been extremely formative and is part of why I decided to switch from Engineering to Sociology. Engineers Without Borders isn’t just for engineers, it’s for anyone interested in systems change and alleviating global poverty. I joined because EWB’s values align with my own and I saw the potential to grow as a leader while being a part of something meaningful.
I started off as an EWB junior fellow, which enabled me to return home to Accra to work with one of EWB’s ventures, a tech enterprise called VOTO Mobile, now Viamo. The company creates and distributes educational information via SMS and voice call. Upon returning to Canada, I became a returned junior fellow and served as co-vice president external for the chapter. Most recently, I have been elected as co-president for the chapter.
“My extracurricular involvement has helped me zero in on my strengths and weaknesses. I’ve taken on a variety of roles, and in each have learned something new about myself and what I’m capable of.”
What have you found most valuable about participating in extracurricular activities?
It’s a great way to connect with others and feel like a part of the campus community. Also, my extracurricular involvement has helped me zero in on my strengths and weaknesses. I’ve taken on a variety of roles, and in each have learned something new about myself and what I’m capable of. I wanted university to be an opportunity for me to find myself, and getting involved on campus has definitely enriched my journey and helped in my understanding of self.
When you’re not studying, what’s your favourite thing to do on campus?
Hang out with friends in the International Programs and Services, or the Aboriginal Programs and Services. I’m very involved in clubs and student government, so if I’m not studying, I’m often doing something for that.
What’s the best part about living in Kelowna?
The views! Kelowna is so breathtaking and that’s part of why I chose the Okanagan campus. It’s a very lifestyle-focused place, so there are a lot of options if you like hiking, water sports, or simply going for a walk. I’ve also started training with the Okanagan Athletics Club, so I enjoy practising with them or going to the gym.
Where’s your favourite place to study, and why?
The quiet rooms in the library or an empty classroom. Everyone that’s in the quiet rooms in the library is in full study mode, so it really helps me focus. Whenever I’m studying in an empty classroom, I’m often with my friends and it’s often the night before an exam. We like to use the white boards and order pizza while we work. It’s a great space to get work done while feeling supported during exam stress.
“Thanks to my time here, I’ve been able to learn from exceptional scholars, staff, and student leaders, and my character has undoubtedly been shaped by the bright minds and wholehearted mentorship.”
What has your UBC experience helped you achieve so far, and how?
Meeting some of the best people in my life, realizing my worth, and growing as a leader. Thanks to my time here, I’ve been able to learn from exceptional scholars, staff, and student leaders, and my character has undoubtedly been shaped by the bright minds and wholehearted mentorship. What really makes UBC Okanagan special is the people and the innovations they foster. This inspires me every day in my leadership.
What do you think differentiates UBC from other universities?
The sense of community, and the opportunities available to students. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if not for the opportunities that UBC Okanagan has given me. There is a very distinct culture of inclusion – it’s so welcoming and rich with opportunities to lead. When I talk about my university experience with my friends at other schools, I find their campuses lack some of the leadership opportunities that are in abundance here.
Also, the UBC motto, Tuum Est, can be a reality for anyone. If you have an idea, make it a reality; if you have a dream, pursue it. With its countless clubs, events, and academic avenues, UBC offers a rich educational opportunity where students can uncover the best of themselves. I took Tuum Est to heart and I’ve been making my experience mine ever since!