UBC grad Luisa Vasquez is living a dream.
Vasquez long imagined working for the United Nations, and now she does just that in the protection office of the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees in Costa Rica. The office oversees the processing of asylum seekers to ensure they are treated fairly and that their rights are respected.
“I am very happy to work in a place like this,” says Vasquez. “There are a lot of things to work towards, not to say that it’s all nice, but that’s what makes a job worth doing, it’s all the challenges that come with it, and finding ways in which to make appropriate changes and learning from the mistakes.”
After completing her undergraduate degree with a major in international relations at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus, Vasquez moved on to a post-graduate degree from the UN-mandated University for Peace before fulfilling her UN dream.
“UBC gave me all the tools and knowledge to pursue a graduate diploma and a career in the international sector. Now I have the skills to perform well in this position. I still keep in contact with students, alumni and people that work (at UBC’s Okanagan campus),” says Vasquez.
“I think much of what a person does in life is enabled by their own determination and by the people they surround themselves around. I was really lucky to be given the opportunity to be part of the UBCO community, and the people in this community have been key in achieving my goals in life.”
Born in Medellin, Columbia, Vasquez travelled the world growing up and said her degree from UBC opened a lot of doors for her, making it possible to fulfil her dream of working for the UN.
“I have always been set on core values which for me, is to give back and to be involved locally and internationally in what I feel passionate about. I think UBC was key in this, as it allowed me to get involved in learning more about the issues that I felt passionate about and also to get involved. The professors and the staff and supervisors were all resourceful and this allowed me to be an involved student and staff member,” says Vasquez.