Kai’s story

5 minutes with a campus-sustainability leader (and awesome national-anthem singer).

Kai’s story
NameKai Okazaki
FromJasper, Alberta, Canada
ProgramScience and Management in the Faculty of Forestry
ActivitiesStudent Coordinator for Campus Sustainability in Residence, anthem singer at UBC Athletics and Recreation (singing the national anthem at Thunderbird events), Tap That UBC water alternatives campaign


In addition to his studies, campus-sustainability work, and singing the national anthem at UBC sporting events, Kai has been awarded for being an inspiring student leader, and will shortly be heading out on a research trip to India. Check out what Kai has to say about his busy UBC experience.

Why did you decide to study Science & Management?

I chose the conservation program in the Faculty of Forestry because it allows me to take research-focused courses and to take advantage of opportunities to attend field schools. I have already spent a semester at one field school in the interior of BC, and my next opportunity will be exploring international conservation and forestry resource management in India.

This will include surveying forests and plant species in various forest stands. Some places I’m really looking forward to visiting on this trip are wildlife reserves (specifically Periyar Tiger Reserve), Rajaji National Park, and many other sacred places. I will also explore eco-development projects in relation to resource management and how these projects are changing lives of the local people.

What is Tap That UBC! and what is your involvement there?

Tap That UBC! was an anti- plastic-water-bottle campaign that was co-founded by a group of sustainability-oriented students at UBC. The campaign was to get the University to sign a written agreement to find alternatives to bottled water. With over 3,100 student signatures, the University has agreed to work with different UBC partners to phase out plastic water bottles on campus.

It was a neat experience to coordinate and strategize with different students over a four-month period. It’s incredible to think that a group of like-minded individuals were able to make this large-scale initiative become a reality, and we are so fortunate to have gone through this journey.

What are some of your accomplishments as student coordinator for Campus Sustainability in Residence?

This position allowed me to gain work experience while continuing with full-time academic studies, and to develop career-oriented skill sets that a classroom could not teach.

One project that I was fortunate enough to lead was the Do It In the Dark energy and water conservation project. This inter-house competition encouraged 3,100 students living in first-year residences to reduce their consumption of energy and water during three weeks in November, 2012. The competition was a collaboration among Residence Life, Common Energy UBC, and Campus Sustainability.

This year, we collaborated with Residence Life’s Aim to Sustain energy and water conservation competition held in November. This involved developing the information, tools, and initiatives around the theme of sustainability, including energy, water, waste, food, and transportation.

This position gave me an idea of the kind of career path I want to work toward. The Campus Sustainability Office provides a safe and connected environment in the CIRS building, where staff show great mentorship and leadership opportunities for me to develop as a student here at UBC.

You are a featured artist for the “Blank Vinyl” project. Can you explain what this is and what your involvement is?

The Blank Vinyl Project is a student-recording club that auditioned and selected me to represent their artist profile as a musician. This team of dedicated students really provides support and direction on what the artist would like to do while being profiled. They were able to provide me with some recording sessions, and various gigs on- and off-campus that I wouldn’t have had access to otherwise.

How did you get involved as a singer with Athletics & Recreation?

I submitted a live audio recording of the Canadian anthem and shortly afterwards, I was singing for many of the home games on UBC’s Vancouver campus.

How has UBC supported your goals?

Academically, UBC has provided me with the resources to prepare for the next chapter in my career/academic path. UBC has also given me the opportunity to get involved in my community. The vast amount of extra-curricular activities to explore, the Work Learn Program, and student resources that are available on campus guide my interests outside of school. How neat is it that my university was able to provide so many options to allow me to succeed in so many ways?

What would you say to a student considering coming to UBC?

If you are a student coming to UBC, you will be astounded by the number of things you can do here. You will also be amazed by how fast time goes during your time here at UBC. My philosophy is that if time is going fast during university, you must be having a great time whatever you are doing.

You also learn so much about yourself as an individual when you attend post-secondary. But I believe that because UBC has such a wide variety of resources available, the opportunities here to find something that you would enjoy is bound to happen. This community becomes your home.

What are some highlights of your time in Vancouver, some favourite places to go or activities to do outside of UBC?

Highlights are seeing so many great bands that play here. Some shows that I have really enjoyed include: Alt-J, Ben Howard, Foster the People, Bon Iver, Ed Sheeran, Passenger, James Blake, Justin Nozuka, etc.

Other highlights for me would be the diversity of people I met in Vancouver. And I have fallen in love with all of the different foods in the Vancouver area.

My favourite activities include running alongside Marine Drive, cycling in the bike lanes, and hiking in North Vancouver and Squamish.

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