Road to degree a personal journey

Bachelor of commerce graduate Phillip Chen has found an apartment in San Francisco and is keen to start exploring life beyond school.

Chen says he’s leaving UBC with a lot more confidence and peace of mind than when he first arrived. This past winter, Chen came out to friends and family—a process that was both terrifying and liberating.

“It took me 21 years to stop hating myself and to learn to love myself. UBC has been really, really good for me because of that,” says Chen, who was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Chen credits the counselors at UBC Student Services for helping him navigate his way to self acceptance. Also crucial was a tight circle of friends “who sat up for hours talking with me, cooking for me, allowing me to vent, but also calling me on my b.s.”

Chen says he sees the truth in UBC’s motto of “tuum est—that it’s up to you.” In third year, Chen joined the UBC Marketing Association (UBCMA), one of Sauder’s largest student organizations aimed at networking and career opportunities. He served as UBCMA president during fourth year, where he was known for his hard work and clear, strategic thinking.

Chen is equally proud of successfully launching the first business mentorship program for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth at Sauder.  Through contacts and cold calls, Chen recruited mentors from businesses that include the Certified General Accountants Association of B.C., Gay Whistler, Men’s Health Initiative and the Gay and Lesbian Business Association.

“Everyone was very responsive when I approached them because they understand about leveraging networks to help people who are just starting out.”

Chen is ready for his next adventure.  “My plan is to get a job with a startup company or some other kind of business where I can observe and learn,” says Chen, who majored in marketing at the Sauder School of Business.

Eventually, Chen would like to open a “small, niche” business either in retail or the food services industry. “I would love to brand it myself.”

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