Uncovering your best self

How leading others led to profound personal discovery.

Uncovering your best self
NameDela Hini
FromAccra, Ghana; Calgary, Canada
ProgramSociology and Political Science

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!

Latest Stories

Daniel Fan Future Global Leaders 2020

Finding the right fit

Discovering his dream school in Canada with the help of Future Global Leaders

Finding the right fit

"Future Global Leaders has managed to imitate what university life truly is – and from my personal experience, I think that’s where the uncertainty for most high school students comes from." - Daniel Fan, Bachelor of Kinesiology

Exploring her future

How UBC's Future Global Leaders program helped Kate decide where to study

Exploring her future

“I would say it's a great chance to understand if UBC is a good fit for you, or find out how you would feel at a big university in general.” - Kate Theriault, BA in Political Science
Leonardo Moutinho Caffarello Student Story

All roads lead to space

From Brazil to Canada, en route to Mars

All roads lead to space

"UBC has inspired me to reach for new heights and leave my mark on this planet in a positive way." - Leonardo Caffarello, Physics
Noa Berman Mayer UBC Student Story

Discovering the impact of a Forestry degree

How one student unearthed her passion for conservation

Discovering the impact of a Forestry degree

"There are intricacies in the smallest of ecosystems, and there is so much more to discover," - Noa Mayer, BSc in Natural Resources Conservation
Chris Rambaran UBC story

Supporting youth from care at UBC

Chris helps prospective and current students to thrive

Supporting youth from care at UBC

"My favourite thing is to see students’ reactions when they learn that their tuition is going to be completely covered." - Chris Rambaran, Enrolment Services Advisor
Verukah Poirier Former Youth in Care

Finding a home

How one student discovered her path after leaving foster care

Finding a home

"I aged out of the child welfare system at the age of 19 in the city of Surrey. I can honestly say that I have found the family I always wanted at UBC." - Verukah Poirier, Bachelor of Arts.
Alicia Morgono Student Story

Making the most of opportunities

How work placements and extracurricular activities enriched one student's degree

Making the most of opportunities

"My first Co-op was during the summer of 2018 at RBC Toronto. I had a supportive, fun team, and a great experience at a Fortune 500 company." - Alicia Margono, International Relations and Psychology
Nadine Truter student story

Making an impact

How one student hopes to put her own stamp on healthcare

Making an impact

"I knew I wanted to have a positive impact on the world in one way or another – the next step was to determine how I would do it." - Nadine Truter, Biomedical Engineering