BA: Human Geography

Where did Matt work? 

Work Term 1 and 2 (8 months):

Development Student Assistant, GEERing Up! UBC Engineering & Science

What did Matt accomplish?

Matt is in charge of managing the sponsorship and fundraising cycles for GEERing Up. Additionally, he designs programs and initiatives that would be attractive to funders, including creative or promotional materials like newsletters, reports, and posters. “What I do at GEERing Up is a lot of storytelling and compiling statistics. The main point is to get people interested in what we’re doing here,” he stated.

Matt has started planning an Indigenous internship program alongside the Indigenous outreach team. This program is offered to students in rural and Indigenous communities across BC, where they can work for GEERing Up and develop the skills necessary to be instructors in STEM education. Previously, these students worked for up to 3 weeks. Now, they are able to receive training throughout the summer and get hands-on experience in leading activities for at-risk youth. Matt believes that this will boost diversity within their team and advance UBC’s strategic goals for Indigenous representation and inclusion.

What challenges did Matt overcome? 

As part of his job, Matt writes multiple grant applications for GEERing up and reveals that the process is extremely competitive. However, he’s learned not to be discouraged by this because it’s a learning experience. “I Immediately contact the funder to gain feedback and usually it’s not due to the quality of the application but rather the priorities and objectives of the funder. Instead, we create a conversation for the next year and suggest changes that better suit their needs,” Matt stated. In fact, Matt successfully leveraged GEERing Up’s unit impact through a grant application to the federal NSERC PromoScience program. This resulted in the most funding the GEERing Up has ever received from NSERC; $600,000 across three years.

How did Arts Co-op Benefit Matt? 

Matt believes that the Indigenous outreach program aligns with his studies in Human Geography, as he’s gaining experience in promoting socioeconomic equity and justice for Indigenous youth. There’s a trend at GEERing up, Indigenizing STEM and making it more accessible to underserved communities. In turn, this encourages Indigenous students to pursue careers in STEM because they see science as relevant to their daily lives. “It helped me realize that things are more connected than what they seem,” Matt stated.

Matt feels like he has more employment prospects for post-graduation as GEERing Up is interested in hiring post-grads from different faculties. They have also shown interest in his long-term ideas. “I already have a network of people through GEERing Up and the Faculty of Applied Science, who are willing to talk with me about work in the future,” he stated.