2011 Undergraduate Student of the Year (BA Economics and International Relations)


Each year, the Arts Co-op Program recognizes an undergraduate co-op student for outstanding achievement in all aspects of student performance, including academic achievement, workplace achievement, and contribution to co-operative education and extra-curricular activities.

This year’s winner, Sophia Kim, fulfils all of the above and more. In a glowing evaluation from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC), her supervisor Chiara Taylor writes, “Sophia surpassed all our expectations… We have hosted several co-op students in the past and while all have been welcome additions to the team, Sophia certainly stands out amongst them.” Outside of the workplace, Sophia currently serves as a Publishing Co-Executive for the UBC Arts Co-op Students’ Association.

Excellence in the Workplace

Sophia is a student who continually goes above and beyond her colleagues’ expectations.

During her first co-op term with the Financial Arrangements and Cost Sharing (FACS) group at AANDC, Sophia was given what her supervisor describes as “an ambitious research project examining the economic impact of treaties on First Nations in British Columbia.” She was responsible for reviewing existing literature, collecting data through the form of interviews with individuals from First Nations, the private sector and the government, and formulating preliminary conclusions on the subject.

Her research culminated in a formal presentation to employees of Treaties and Aboriginal Government-Negotiations West, and a written paper of what her supervisor deemed “graduate-level quality” that thoroughly impressed her work team, with many requests to share the paper with AANDC’s policy colleagues in Ottawa. Sophia’s findings also impressed a member of a First Nations government, who commented that she had made “some very important findings that will be instructive for AANDC and the Treaty Process.”

While much of her project was not initially well-defined, Sophia took its ever-evolving nature in her stride, adapting easily even to major changes in the project’s scope. Sophia’s supervisor commends her not only for her remarkable resourcefulness in overcoming obstacles, but also her consistently respectful and professional demeanor both towards her colleagues and towards contacts outside the workplace.

During her time at AANDC, Sophia gained valuable insight into the sometimes unintended effects of government policies. Her co-op experience added to the knowledge she’d gained from academics, giving her a “real life” understanding of how and why certain problems emerge. Through the skills and experience gained from this term, Sophia was able to land her “dream job” as a Junior Trade Commissioner at the Consulate General of Canada in San Francisco/Silicon Valley for her second co-op term.

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