2023/24 in profiles

Our Campus is The Ubyssey’s profile subsection! We write articles about a UBC community member and the interesting things they’re doing.

Here are the top profiles of this year.

Drag star Anita Wigl’it spreads kindness from down under to Davie Street

Words by Iman Janmohamed | Photo courtesy Anita Wigl'it, photos by Ally Ryan

Before she was a drag queen, Anita Wigl’it had a job that was, at times, “boring.”

Wigl’it, known out of drag as Nick Kennedy-Hall, was an usher at the Civic Theatre in Auckland, New Zealand and spent most of her shifts welcoming people at the door and showing them to their seats.

After watching the Australian classic Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the now RuPaul’s Drag Race star knew she needed to try drag.

“Seeing that really inspired me to think ‘Gosh, that’s what I want to do.’ I want to be celebrated by people but I also want to have fun … and show [others] that gay people are just so amazing.”

'We have our own voice': Dr. Jeannette Armstrong is a storyteller at heart

Words by Iman Janmohamed | Photos courtesy UBC Okanagan

After graduating with a BFA from the University of Victoria in 1978, Dr. Jeannette Armstrong threw herself straight into work, turning her Syilx Okanagan Nation's history into vibrant stories.

At the En’owkin Centre, a private Indigenous post-secondary institution, Armstrong worked on the Okanagan Indian Curriculum Project which aimed to develop a public school curriculum that represents Okanagan history.

Soon after she started working at the En’owkin Centre, Armstrong realized there was a lack of written scholarly materials about Indigenous people.

She wanted to change that. Now, she's the Canada Research Chair in Okanagan Indigenous Knowledge and Philosophy.

Erin Purghart is sharing Queer experiences through comedy

Words by Stella Griffin | Photos by Isa S. You

Purghart’s introduction to stand-up comedy wasn’t all positive. The first shows they went to showed “straight comics making horrible jokes that were offensive.”

This led Purghart to ask themself an important question — why are there no spaces for Queer comedians to share their experiences?

Throughout Purghart’s career, they’ve seen the gender binary represented on the stage. The UBC alum is demolishing the binary while creating spaces for Queer artists through their comedy show That’s Gay!.

Bangladeshi voices are absent from climate policy. Abul Bashar Rahman biked across Bangladesh to hear them

Words and Photos by Mahin E Alam

More often than not during climate negotiations, Abul Bashar Rahman is the only Bangladeshi in the room. And that often meant Bashar, a fourth-year international economics student, was representing his country and his people.

In moments like that, Bashar asked himself questions — “Am I the right person to represent Bangladesh? Am I the right person to tell these stories?”

“I am a climate victim in many ways, but when it comes to the impacts of climate change, there are worse off people in Bangladesh,” said Bashar. “At its core, [my work is] just to understand what climate impact means for my country.”

Dr. Agnes d'Entremont teaches the art of the possible

Words by Emiko Wijeysundera | Photos by Zoe Wagner

Twice a week for an hour and a half, broken pasta flies across a classroom as conversations about torsion and solid mechanics float out the door.

You’d be forgiven for thinking this was a typical engineering class, but not one student in the classroom is an engineering student.

That class is APSC 366, an engineering course for non-engineers, called “The Art of the Possible.”

For Dr. Agnes d’Entremont, one of the course instructors, it’s a course that just makes sense since teaching non-engineering students about engineering is valuable.

“Engineering processes and products impact people, and sometimes quite dramatically,” said d’Entremont. “So people, the community, society should have a say in these products and processes.”

Dr. Sasha Protopopova runs the fluffiest lab on campus

Words by Jocelyn Baker | Photos by Mahin E Alam

It wouldn’t be fair to call Dr. Alexandra ‘Sasha’ Protopopova dog-obsessed. She also enjoys hiking.

With a dog.

“You’re wasting your hike — you have to use it for the dog,” Protopopova laughed.

Protopopova researches animal behaviour science with a focus on companion animals such as dogs and cats. Her work aims to improve the quality of life and adoptability of sheltered animals while learning about their behaviour.

Joanne Pickford is the unofficial mom of the AMS

Words by Nathan Bawaan | Photos by Zoe Wagner

Most students probably have never met or heard of Pickford. As the AMS’s administrative assistant, she mostly works in the background, offering support to the student executives and doing other behind-the-scenes administrative work.

But over the past 16 years, Pickford has helped the AMS’s student executives do their jobs. She is always willing to offer advice and answer questions and attends every AMS Council meeting — even when they go into the late hours of a Wednesday night.

“I love supporting the students,” she said, a sentiment she kept coming back to throughout her interview with The Ubyssey.

Kristen Gilbert empowers students through sex education

Words by Nicola Roscuata | Photos by Isa S. You

Caring, engaging, funny, welcoming, passionate.

Online, these are the phrases you’ll find over and over about Kristen Gilbert, a nursing professor at UBC.

Gilbert brings a generous spirit to NURS 280: Human Sexual Health. Conceptualized, written and taught solely by Gilbert, it covers “beliefs, behaviours, and expressions of human sexuality” and “strategies to promote healthy sexual expression and sexual health.”

“I think it’s a joy to talk about human sexuality,” she said. “Being given permission or taking the opportunity to really dig into this incredible area of humanity is a pleasure. To be able to talk about sex is great.”

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