Discovering a new path

Opening up opportunities.

When North Dakota native Andrew Hughes came to study at UBC’s Okanagan campus four years ago, he didn’t consider himself to be set apart from the crowd. That all changed in his third year, when he received an Undergraduate Research Award (URA) through the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences.

The URA program, supported by Dr. Barber, sponsors a select number of undergraduate students annually, encouraging them to pursue innovative and original research as part of their learning experience. Students are chosen for the prestigious award based on the originality and viability of their proposed research project. Andrew’s URA allowed him to investigate his interest in how the two hemispheres of the brain differently process emotions. His research presentation on his findings has won him international acclaim, and his work is now contributing to helping researchers and scientists uncover more about what happens to people after serious brain injuries.

Originally a Biochemistry major, Andrew changed his major to Psychology after a friend convinced him to take a course in the subject during his second year at UBC. Andrew’s enthusiasm for psychology continued to grow after that first course, and, since graduating from UBC, he is now in the process of applying to medical school, an opportunity he is convinced he would not be pursuing had he not received a URA during his time as an undergraduate. Referring to the award, he says “it opened up all these opportunities.”

Now he has big dreams, including the possibility of completing an MD/PhD so that he can practice medicine as well as continue to do research, a passion that the URA allowed him to discover. Andrew says of Dr. Barber and others who support students at UBC, “Donors have the potential to change someone’s life.”

The URA has certainly changed Andrew’s life, allowing him to follow a new and exciting path.


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