UBC Notable Alumni
May-Ann Olazo - January 1st, 2023
The University of British Columbia (UBC) has produced some of the world’s brightest minds and most influential leaders. As one of the top universities in Canada, UBC’s notable alumni list is a who’s-who of national and international leaders across various industries.
From trailblazing pioneers to inspiring humanitarians, here are ten of the most notable UBC alumni:
Bif Naked made history when she became the first openly pregnant woman to appear on the cover of a major music magazine. Bif is also a powerful advocate for cancer awareness, having successfully battled Hodgkin’s lymphoma herself. Since then, she has used her platform to shine a spotlight on issues of health advocacy and body image positivity. Bif’s passionate community engagement extends beyond her philanthropic work – whether it be volunteering weekly at educational music workshops or publishing journals detailing her long journey with mental health issues – making her a true ambassador of hope to all UBC alumni.
Douglas Coupland has achieved tremendous success since graduating from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1984. His writing career has become incredibly prolific, exploring the relationship between art, technology and culture in stories that capture his unique vision. He is perhaps best known for his novels Generation X, Microserfs and Shampoo Planet, as well as his non-fiction, works like the City of Glass: Douglas Coupland’s Vancouver and Polaroids from the Dead. His work routinely pushes boundaries and encourages viewers to look at concepts from different perspectives.
After receiving her art history degree from the University of British Columbia, Grace Park decided to venture into acting and appeared in numerous television shows, including Battlestar Galactica, A Million Little Things, Hawaii Five-0 and Ironside. In 2019, Park was awarded a ‘Mentorship Award’ by the 20th annual Vancouver Asian Film Festival (VAFF). Her philanthropic efforts have been recognized by many organizations as well. Through her platform ‘Project K,’ Park has raised funds for several charitable causes such as disaster reliefs and programs for marginalized youths.
The University of British Columbia is deeply proud of its notable alumni, including iconic social psychologist Albert Bandura. A graduate of the University in 1949, Bandura is particularly renowned for his pioneering work in cognitive-social learning theory and self-efficacy. His experiments studying modeling behavior had a lasting impact on psychology and education curriculums around the world. Bandura also served as president of the American Psychological Association (APA), overseeing the organization’s initiatives to increase public understanding of psychology while recognizing critical contributions to research and practice. He continues to be an exemplary role model for current and future students of UBC—an inspiring example of what can be achieved through dedication, hard work, and passion for one’s chosen field.
Kim Campbell is an outstanding University of British Columbia (UBC) alumni who served as Canada’s 19th Prime Minister. She was the first female to ever assume the role and became the first woman in a G7 country to serve as head of state. With her impressive academic record, Kim graduated UBC with a Bachelor’s degree in political science and also received a diploma in Russian language and literature. Her career then took off and Campbell became an alderman for Vancouver City Council, obtained Provincial cabinet posts before finally being appointed to the Federal Cabinet. Today, she remains deeply involved in public policy across Canada and abroad Serving proudly with distinction for her home university, Kim Campbell is undoubtedly one its most recognized alumnus to date.
Nardwuar the Human Serviette, born John Ruskin was formerly a student in the Arts and Image Program at UBC, where he developed his trademark eccentric style. Through university radio station CITR-FM, Nardwuar founded Nardwuar’s Thee Sumin’, UBC’s first punk show. Since then, he has earned himself celebrity as an entertainment reporter. His interviews are highly acclaimed for their unique blend of comedy and journalism; going beyond basic questions to discuss the histories and favourite foods of artists he has interviewed. With over 1 million YouTube subscribers, Nardwuar continues to bring humour, wit and an iconic aesthetic to both university and global entertainment media alike – all from humble beginnings at UBC!
Joe Clark is an esteemed University of British Columbia alumnus, having graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. A noteworthy leader and political career marked much of his life, standing as the 16th Prime Minister of Canada from 1979 to 1980. Mr. Clark served as the Secretary of State for External Affairs from 1984 to 1991 as well as the Minister in charge of Constitutional Negotiations during this period. His distinguished political career endeavouring for Canadian unity was exceptionally impressive and stands out even among other UBC notable alumni’s successes. Joe Clark’s dedication to national politics has had a lasting impact on contemporary Canadian society and he is revered by many fellow Canadians.
Patrick Soon-Shiong is an alumnus from UBC’s Faculty of Medicine in 1980, Soon-Shiong is an internationally celebrated philanthropist, entrepreneur, scientist and healthcare visionary. He has made immense contributions to the fields of surgery and biopharmaceuticals, most recently being honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the US National Academy of Medicine. His dedication to improving public health worldwide through innovative technologies has made him an inspiration for many current students at UBC. Soon-Shiong continues to utilize his education and experience to make notable advancements in healthcare today – a truly impressive feat by any measure!
Nazanin Afshin-Jam is a notable alumnus of UBC widely respected for her illustrious human rights work. She is an international human rights activist, lawyer, singer/songwriter, and former Miss World Canada and anti-death penalty campaigner who has continued to stay connected with UBC by teaching in the university’s Global Resource Systems program. As a former Royal Canadian Navy Lieutenant, she was actively involved in strategic planning related to conflict and post-conflict zones. Her commitment to global justice, notably on advocacy around stopping gender based violence worldwide, has earned her numerous prestigious awards, such as the Human Rights Award from Amnesty International; and Human Rights Torch Award from Harvard Law School Human Rights Student Organization. Nazanin Afshin-Jam continues to inspire positive changes around the world today.
Justin Trudeau, the 23rd prime minister of Canada, holds a special place in the hearts of UBC alumni. After obtaining his Bachelor of Education from UBC in 1998, he began teaching elementary and high school math and went on to become a Member of Parliament for Papineau in 2008. A decade later, he was sworn in as Prime Minister with a historically progressive platform that included ambitious goals for building an economy based on innovation and knowledge, for truth and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, for protecting our environment and its wild spaces, and for making Canada home to those seeking safety and inclusion. Though his time at UBC has since passed, his dedication to our country continues today, earning him a special distinction among UBC alumni—not only is he the most visible alumnus but also one of the school’s proudest ambassadors.
These are but a few members from UBC’s impressive list of alumni who have achieved great things. It’s no wonder that many high-achieving students flock to attend this world-class university!
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