Strengthening and building student engagement



A new program is helping Psychology students find their community and prepare for their future

Psychology is the most popular undergraduate major at UBC, with over 1800 students working toward their BA degree and over 150 studying for their BSc degree. Armed with a mission to create a sense of belonging within this large cohort, Dr. Michael Souza and Ashley Whillans have spearheaded a new student initiative in the Department of Psychology.

Launching in September 2015, the Student Engagement Program (SEP) is designed to promote community among new second-year Psychology majors and transfer BA Psychology students.

Whillans150X150“We had a dream that goes back to 2012,” says Ashley Whillans, UBC Psychology PhD Candidate and SEP Project Lead. “We wanted to create a program to increase student engagement and connect students with the often difficult-to-find resources available to them in our large department.”

With this dream, the Student Engagement Program was born

Souza150X150“UBC offers many incredible opportunities for personal and professional growth,” says Dr. Souza, Senior Instructor and Associate Head of Undergraduate Affairs in the Psychology department. “This program will give students a chance to develop skills, knowledge, and community in order to carve their own academic path at UBC.”


Students who participate in the program will be matched with advanced undergraduate mentors called Student Engagement Leaders. They’ll have access to a number of online tools and resources, as well as workshops and events aimed at promoting student success throughout their degree program – and well into their career.

Events range from faculty-student socials and ‘meet your professor’ events – to workshops on public speaking and resume writing – to career panels on enriching their Psychology degree, expanding their UBC experience, and pursuing graduate studies. While the 2015-16 recruiting period for the program has closed, all Psychology students are welcome to attend the events.

Passionate about helping students make the most of their undergraduate experience, Benjamin Cheung, UBC Psychology PhD Candidate, joined Souza and Whillans as the SEP Program and Event Coordinator. Along with a team of dedicated Student Engagement Leaders, the program is well on its way in transforming the student experience – and creating a supportive learning environment – to position students for academic success.

Student Engagement Program: three pillars of success

  1. Building community
    We seek to cultivate environments that promote connections and inclusivity between you and your peers, and you and your department.
  1. Building useful, applied skills
    We want to develop global leaders and developing and expanding your skill toolkit is a critical component in doing that.
  1. Preparing for the future
    We want to help you navigate resources that will help you discover and pursue your passions. In recognition of the diversity of interests in our student body, we want to provide a broad array of resources.