A story about working hard

”Invest your energy on things you can control, and remember that one thing you can always control is your hard work.“

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Hellen Lacava

  • Degree: Bachelor of Applied Science
  • Program: Civil Engineering
  • Campus: Okanagan

Year: 4th Year

Chat with Hellen


In my first year at UBCO, I participated in one of the most fun classes I have ever had here, involving two big final projects in a class competition style. Out of more than 50 teams, my team won 4th place in the SolidWorks Modeling Competition and 1st place in the Final Design Competition. The winners of the Design Competition had an opportunity to work with research in a mechatronics lab, which was very exciting for me. Unfortunately, the pandemic disrupted my plans, but I quickly found another research position relevant to my interest through the UBCO Job Board. I have been working in this same lab, in the Civil Engineering department for two years now. These experiences allowed me to apply my learnings and inspired me to achieve more.

How did you decide your current UBC Engineering discipline, or why did you choose UBC Engineering?

Upon finishing high school, I knew Civil Engineering would be the right fit. I have always been fascinated by constructions, specifically vertical structures (high-rise buildings) and underwater structures. I want to understand how they were built and one day build them myself. 

What has made your time at UBC Engineering memorable?

Being an engineering student is challenging given the heavy courseload compared to other disciplines. Personally, I had difficulties studying in a second language (as I am an international student), while playing for a UBC varsity sport team and working part-time. These responsibilities drove me to practicing strong time-management skills daily to stay on top of my workload. Given the personal challenges I overcame, one of my most memorable recognition was an Academic All-Canadian Award: awarded to student-athletes maintaining an 80%+ overall average. Setting an academic goal and working hard to accomplish it showed me what I am capable of.

Tell us about your experience in your program. What have you learned that is most valuable?

Connecting with people was one of the most important skills I developed, which allowed me to succeed in my courses, in my jobs, on the volleyball court, and socially. I learned to ask for help whenever I need it, from my friends, classmates, professors, advisors, coaches. Asking for help allows me to learn and understand course materials better while saving time and energy, and likewise, I help others with their questions and concerns. I find this positive knowledge exchange helps create a tight-knit sense of community between students at UBC.

What resources or events organized by UBC Engineering have helped you in your academic, professional or entrepreneurial journey thus far?

From my experience, I find the career fairs in general very fun and useful for networking, especially when they are in person. If you take some time to get to know your professors outside of class and ask them questions about their careers, you may listen to some very interesting and inspiring stories that can help you with your own career path choices.

What is one piece of advice you would share to a student entering UBC Engineering?

Whatever goals you have for yourself, work hard, use all the resources and make it happen. 

At UBC, we are creating highly impactful solutions that aim to radically transform health and wellness, and shape a society and economy where people are more connected, empowered and effective. How has UBC Engineering inspired your entrepreneurial thinking, and helped you make a difference in your own community or beyond?

UBC Engineering taught me that there is always room for improvement. The possibilities are limitless, it may be an improvement in cost reduction, change in attitude, skills, or mindset. For me, my engineering education is about learning how to make the world better as well as stimulating people to think about the possible improvements that can be made and how. It makes me want to be part of the change, part of the improvement, and this is what I look forward to doing as a proud UBC Engineer.

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