2018 Undergraduate Co-op Student of the Year

Each year, the Arts Co-op Program recognizes an undergraduate co-op student for outstanding achievement in all aspects of the student’s performance, including academics, the workplace, and professional/community involvement. This year’s winner, Gabriela Llanos, was honoured for her work term with Global Affairs Canada (GAC). To quote her supervisor, Philémon Leroux, “Gabriela surpassed expectations for co-op students through her stellar work ethic, her enthusiasm to learn and receive feedback, and her robust interpersonal and communication skills with international stakeholders.”

Excellence in the Workplace

In her position as a Junior Case Management Officer, Gabriela’s responsibilities included contributing to the management of consular files and consular service delivery, crafting knowledge-sharing products for senior management, and leading special projects to increase division efficiency. Drawing on her double major in International Relations and Spanish, Gabriela was able to thrive in the multilingual environment of the Consular Operations (CNO) division, by leveraging her knowledge of English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. Many of Gabriela’s undertakings were high pressure in nature, involving sensitive information, requiring a great deal of cultural knowledge and sensitivity, and operating on short deadlines. Gabriela notes that working in this division inspired her to continue working in a fast-paced, multilingual environment where her languages are valued and essential in ensuring the safety and security of Canadians abroad.

Over the four months she spent with GAC, Gabriela accomplished a variety of outstanding achievements. One that particularly stands out is her leadership in revising and completing a 1,500-page Access to Privacy and Information Request (ATIP) on a complex, sensitive case for a Canadian citizen travelling abroad. This task involved collecting all relevant materials to the case, revising English, French, and Spanish documents, and crafting a concise report for senior management. Highly aware of the case’s sensitivity, Gabriela took the initiative to connect with the ATIP officer to clarify procedures and consulted with other departments for redaction recommendations. While Gabriela shares that this undertaking pushed the boundaries of her abilities in French, she was able to successfully complete the request in a three-week timeline.

Community Involvement

In addition to her excellence in the workplace, Gabriela plays an active role in the UBC and Arts Co-op communities. As a Jumpstart Leader and Totem Park residence House President, she has positively impacted the experiences of both domestic and international students beginning their journeys at UBC. Gabriela has also served as the Treasurer for UBC’s chapter of Toastmasters International, offering her strong financial management skills in coordinating club budgets and membership. She is a member of the Tandem Program and the UBC Francophone Student Association, and as a Mentor with the Arts Co-op Student Association (ACSA), she devotes her time to assisting junior Arts Co-op students with application preparation and career development. Gabriela thrives in helping other students and is in the process of kick-starting her own resume and interview assistance service to support UBC students in obtaining federal government jobs.

Co-op: Expanding Horizons

In Gabriela’s words, “four years ago, I remember walking into the Arts Co-op office for the first time, nervously sharing that my career aspirations were to eventually work for the Government of Canada in the international relations field.” Today, she not only has two federal positions under her belt, but she has also been selected to take part in the Global Affairs Canada Co-op Pilot Program: Management and Consular Affairs, which aims to recruit students after graduation. Gabriela sees her time with GAC as her “capstone position” – an opportunity that allowed her to sharpen her career goals and provided personal and professional development beyond expectations.