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Meet Elisa Pan Huangi: 2020 Vantage College International Major Entrance Scholarship Winner


Could you tell me a little bit about yourself, and what country and city you are from? 

My name is Elisa Pan Huang, I am born in Panama but my parents are Chinese. I am the youngest and also the first one in the entire family to go to university. Throughout my life I have had the chance to do many activities I like, for example, dancing, volleyball club, yearbook committee and academically in the STEM club and Physics and Chemistry Olympics. Also, some of my hobbies are cooking and drawing.

What was your response when you achieved the International Major Entrance Scholarship? What was your family’s response?

I first received the Vantage Entrance Award before the International Major Entrance Scholarship. I remember that I was lying on my bed that day enjoying my vacations by watching Netflix and then out of nowhere I received an email notification that said "congratulations" and I asked myself what that email would be, I mean, I didn't know it was from the university, it could’ve been a spam or a catching mail from stores. So, I opened the mail and to my surprise I won a scholarship from UBC. I did not believe what I saw so I read several times before screaming and jumping. My mother was not at home so I called her to tell her about this news. And she told me "I knew that you would have won, because I trust you and you are very smart”. I also told my best friend about the news, because she’s a person who have always gave me her support, she was so happy with my news. The truth is that I wanted to apply for a full scholarship but I did not apply on time, so my family had hopes that I could receive scholarships that consider you automatically. I thought all the good news stopped that day, but then after a few days later I received another email saying that I won the International major entrance award and I was speechless. My emotions were literally all over the place. I was so happy because with this scholarship my parents would no longer have to pay so much tuition, and a fact is that international tuition is very expensive. With this scholarship I can make sure that my parents no longer have to fully pay for my university and I also do not want them to spend more on my education when they have already paid for my international private school.

What was it about Vantage College that interested you in the program?

Actually, I applied for direct-entry Engineering, but since my English scores were not the best, I was recommended to Vantage College. But even if it is not the direct-entry, I was already happy of receiving an admission letter from UBC, it’s been my dream to study in another country and explore new places. And what better place than at UBC with its diverse cultures, beautiful campus and opportunities. After knowing I was going to be part of the Vantage College stream I began investigating more about the program and I was surprised by how it prepares students the same way as a direct-entry for second year Engineering.

How have you adjusted to learning virtually? What have been some of the challenges?

Honestly, it’s been really challenging and I am still trying to adapt myself for the virtual learning. The main reason of why it’s been challenging is due to my time management since some classes requires me to do pre-tasks in order to understand the topic given in the class, so this gives the result of not being able to keep track of all my assignments.

What are some of the ways the Vantage One programs could support the students more in their progress?

To encourage students in these difficult times. Maybe trying to have a check-in on how every student is doing and if anyone is facing any difficulty. Also, it would be helpful some informative sessions every month about tips on university life.

How are you engaging with your peers and building community within your courses?

At first, I thought it was going to be difficult, since the interactions are done online. But something that helped me to build up my community was that before beginning classes, I made a Zoom call with some peers to get to know each other better. We did some icebreaker questions, and it was so natural how we got to talk to each other comfortably. Also, a key factor that led me to be closer to them was because we filmed a video together via Zoom for someone’s YouTube channel and that eventually got us to be friends.

Are there any extracurricular clubs or projects you have been a part of so far (inside or outside Vantage College)?

I am currently participating on a Hackathon, which is a group competition where people of all over the world can participate. One thing to mention is that I was scared to participate because I may not win since I am only a first-year student without any knowledge of programming and in this competition, there are even professionals participating. I still wanted to be part of it because the competition has mentors and workshops and I can learn throughout the process. Also, an important factor is networking. The topics of the competition were very interesting, they were about 5G technology, IoT and STEM. I’m looking forward to how this is going to turn out.

Once you have completed your Vantage One-year, which programs or degrees are you looking into pursuing, and why?

I am between Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering. But I am mostly inclining to pursue Electrical Engineering since it also requires to have good computer skills. Also, Electrical Engineering needs a lot of thinking, which is a challenge and I like it. Another main reason, I look into pursuing this degree is because I have always been good at Math, Physics and Chemistry field that I think that career best fits me.

Are there any academic goals you would like to achieves while studying at UBC? What would your dream job be?

There are many academic goals I would like to achieve while being at UBC. In the future I would like to run for the student council, form parts of designing groups at UBC, learn the Chinese and Korean language and many more. In the future if possible, apart from engineering I am also planning to get a Master’s degree because my dream job has always been to become a chief electrical engineer.

For any students who are about to embrace virtual learning at UBC, what is some advice you can offer?

Try to organize yourself to have good time management. Even though I mentioned before that this was my challenge with virtual learning, some recommendations I would say is to try using this app called “My Study Life” it has literally been a life savior. This app can be used in both phone and computer, it keeps track of any task, exams or assignments, and it also gives you notification reminders. The first 2 weeks of university were really difficult for me to keep track because I needed to search the syllabus or the canvas page to see what assignments were due, with the app I didn’t need to do that. Everyone is facing the same problem; you are not alone!

Is there anything else you would like to share with us regarding your experience?

So far, my first-year experience has been good considering that everything is virtual. I had the chance to connect with many new peers through social medias and activities that the university has prepared in Virtual Collegia. But hopefully I can travel to Canada for second year and be able to enjoy and discover new places.

Would you like to see Vantage offering/promoting more social events?

Yes, it would be awesome if they had more social events, mainly students at Vantage are all international and mostly have never been in Canada, so I think it’s a good idea to have more interactions and to increase the network circle.