Aaron Koenders

Resource SpecializationGlobal Health and Politics
Region SpecializationAfrica and Europe
HometownSammamish, USA

The ability to sculpt my own degree and follow my passions without being locked out of certain classes or faculties was a definite appeal. That and the broad range of people I get to interact with.

I chose my specializations due to the changes and conflicts we are witnessing worldwide as well as going through my coursework here at UBC. I came into GRS following a public health track as I joined during the COVID crisis however, through my time at UBC I have realized that without an understanding of international politics, there is little that can be done to actually help people. This pushed me to incorporate courses from a variety of faculties that interconnect in a holistic way. Additionally, through my courses at UBC and with the help of the advisory team in LFS I have been able to explore what topics and paths I find interesting while still keeping a clear career pathway open which has helped shape my specializations tremendously.

Visiting Student Exchange at the Katholieke Universiteit of Leuven (KU Leuven)

What I learned most from my international experience was the necessity to work collaboratively with a multitude of differing viewpoints, study specializations, and nationalities. My time at such an international university in the heart of Europe allowed me to experience interactions between myself and people who I would never have met otherwise. These experiences have shaped my university education and my approach to communication tremendously which I attribute directly to my time at KU Leuven. Although many times it can be difficult to listen to opposing views or from specializations and people we may not fully understand, these interactions I have found are the most vital, especially for GRS students whose work is naturally globally expansive in scope.

The flexibility 100%. Without a doubt the flexibility that the GRS program offers is unparalleled. The help that the advisory team and the faculty offer students is not trivial and making use of this has been a lifesaver for myself during my time at UBC. GRS allowing students to explore their interests through all faculties and to shape their own degree in a interdisciplinary and holistic way is one of the most attractive aspects of the degree personally.

I quite enjoyed ANTH 202B – Contemporary Social Problems. The professor didnt let social expectations or ideas influence this class which enabled for a very critical and interesting discussion class.

Probably either run for President or pack my stuff up and travel the world until I visit all 200-something countries.

I am quite proud of my community engagement with the Salvation Army that I did through APO, a student-run club/service fraternity.