“I want a campus that feels friendlier for graduate students”. Friendliness is a word that John Ede uses regularly when he describes his vision for the GSS. It’s not a word that features often in descriptions of the Society’s work, but John believes that it should be at the heart of the relationship between the GSS and graduate students – and among graduate students generally.
“Making friends and building relationships is one the most important things for new graduate students arriving on campus and it’s something the GSS can help with.”
“After moving to Vancouver from Lagos, Nigeria which was a noisy and boisterous city, Vancouver felt reserved and even compared to cities like New York, maybe a bit unwelcoming. You can walk all the way across campus without sharing a word or a smile with anyone. Making friends and building relationships is one the most important things for new graduate students arriving on campus and it’s something the GSS can help with.”
John came to Vancouver from Nigeria, where he worked for seven years in the oil industry managing contracts with companies like Chevron, Shell and Mobil and it was his experience that convinced him to change career and enlist at UBC.
“Working in Nigeria was like meandering through a corrupt system. I was dealing with government bodies like the Department of Petroleum Resources, the Nigerian Navy, corporations and the local communities who have oil and everywhere the cost of doing business was high because of corruption.
I decided to change career and come to UBC because I want to return to Nigeria to try and change that infrastructure, that culture through better public and social policies.”
John arrived in Vancouver on August 31st, 2017 with his wife and three-year-old daughter as a student on the Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs program. The program is an interdisciplinary mix for global affairs with knowledge from political science, economics, statistics, public management, public policy, and communication.
“It’s a hard job trying to learn all you need to be a policy maker, but the course does a good job of giving you a bit of everything from macro and micro-economics to policy writing and project management.”
John’s choice of career was one of the reasons why he chose to get involved in the GSS. “I’m changing my career and studying government and policy making, so working with the GSS is an opportunity to develop skills that I can use once I graduate.”
But just as important was his desire to improve things for graduate students at UBC.
“When I arrived on campus I noticed things that I felt needed attention. I talk about a friendlier campus and that means creating spaces for graduate students to meet and engage. I also feel passionately that is important to promote diversity.” One of the reasons John joined UBC was because it has one of the most diverse communities of any North American University.
“I have classmates from across the world and having such a diverse campus is a great place to start but I want to raise that bar higher. We should tackle discrimination wherever it exists, whether that is religious, ethnic or based on sexuality or gender. But I also think it’s important that graduate students should feel confident speaking for diversity even away from campus.
“I want to draw the attention of the community to the GSS as a place that helps graduates become more intellectually and socially aware and engaged.”
I’m hoping to host events that will allow graduate students to discuss these issues. I want to draw the attention of the community to the GSS as a place that helps graduates become more intellectually and socially aware and engaged.”
John plays basketball for leisure when he has time to spare. Once a student of Isshinryu karate, he has once represented his Alma Mata in basketball and taekwondo at the Nigeria University Games (NUGA).