UBC Okanagan Arts student receives Interdisciplinary Co-op Student of the Year Award

Fourth-year Bachelor of Arts student, Lisvet Parra Montas, becomes the 2021 UBCO Co-op Student of the Year


Majoring in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE), Lisvet Parra Montas was keen to enhance her undergraduate experience at UBC’s Okanagan campus with UBC Okanagan Interdisciplinary Co-op. Initially drawn to the program by the opportunity to explore career paths as part of her undergraduate studies, Parra Montas credits the co-op experience as playing a pivotal role in igniting her passions and uncovering pathways for her future career.

“This award means that I was able to take full advantage of my university experience.”

– Lisvet Parra Montas, 2021 UBC Okanagan Interdisciplinary Co-op Student of the Year

Working in two different units on UBC’s Okanagan campus during her co-op work terms helped inform how her knowledge and skills can apply across diverse fields. Parra Montas first applied her background in Arts to her role as the Writing and Academic Integrity Consultant in UBC’s Student Learning Hub before supporting UBC’s Planning and Institutional Research (PAIR) as a Research Analyst. Upon reflection, Parra Montas attributes her first co-op work term with providing her the opportunity to strengthen her skills in a role outside of her major and connect with new people, which assisted in obtaining her second and third co-op terms with PAIR.

Throughout her co-op experiences, Parra Montas had the opportunity to both work alongside fellow students, providing constructive feedback and support, and also to collaborate with staff and faculty members on various projects. In her most recent co-op role, Parra Montas worked with colleagues to analyze and highlight the impact that Covid-19 has had on work-integrated learning (WIL) employers and community partners. She also assisted in developing standardized demographic questions around race, ethnicity, and ancestry which will now be utilized across UBC and all post-secondary institutions throughout BC. She attributes this particular opportunity within co-op, and her incredible colleagues, with re-igniting her passion for social justice and issue-based advocacy.

For Parra Montas, social justice and advocacy is a long-held passion. She attributes her initial interest in this field to her extracurricular activities prior to co-op. During her time with UBCO, Parra Montas worked with the Global Engagement Office where she planned, developed, and facilitated workshops related to interculturalism, with the goal of raising awareness of diversity and promoting inclusion on campus and within the city of Kelowna. She notes, “This was the role that introduced me to the world of equity, diversity, and inclusion, and to which I owe my initial interest for social justice.” Parra Montas also participated in the Harvard National Model United Nations 2020, which allowed her to gain a deeper understanding of different countries’ policies, economy and international relations.

Having the opportunity to participate in these extracurricular activities through UBCO guided Parra Montas in reaching her co-op position with PAIR, which further encouraged her to explore and strengthen her interests in social justice in a new way. This time through research. Being able to experience the contributions applied research-based work can have in the lives of underrepresented and marginalized communities, Parra Montas discovered both how she could apply her degree in philosophy, politics, and economics and the vast ways she can work in the field.

The opportunity to develop personally, academically, professionally and collaborate with different people throughout Parra Montas’ co-op journey has empowered her to gain clarity on future next steps. She notes, “Through my co-op experiences I have gained more perspective regarding possible career paths post-graduation”. Most recently, she attributes her co-op experience as a Research Analyst with UBC’s PAIR with spurring an authentic interest in applied research-based work, and helping her to identify an interest in exploring future endeavours which include pursuing further education and her doctorate degree, as well as a career in social justice and advocacy.

“I truly believe that Lisvet is very well deserving of this award,” says Dr. Stephanie McKeown, Chief Institutional Research Officer at PAIR. “She is a strong team member who is self-motivated, able to work independently and as a member of a team, and is always willing to learn. During her co-op terms working with PAIR, Lisvet demonstrated problem-solving skills, outstanding organizational skills, project prioritization and leadership skills.”

“Lisvet has made a significant contribution to the work we do; she is truly an amazing student who has brought her knowledge to our team and provided a learning opportunity for us all.”

– Dr. Stephanie McKeown, Chief Institutional Research Officer, PAIR

Parra Montas is humbled to be this year’s recipient of UBC Okanagan Interdisciplinary Co-op Student of The Year Award, and joins two previous award winners over the past two years.  Not only did co-op provide the opportunity for Parra Montas to practice what she had been theorizing in school but helped her feel more connected to herself as a developing professional, advancing her soft skills in empathy, responsibility, professionalism, public speaking, and critical thinking, in addition to developing professional skills related to researched-based work such as qualitative coding and the use of different data analysis software. She describes that the co-op program has, “Helped me learn and grow so much as a student, as a professional, and even as an individual. I feel extremely grateful for all the experiences Co-op allowed me to have and, for that, I am very honoured to receive this award.”

“I highly encourage students in Co-op to ensure they’re utilizing the university’s resources and to keep an open mind for new experiences and opportunities,” says Parra Montas, “being open-minded to exploring different or challenging opportunities during my co-op job search really worked out for me, and it’s something I highly recommend all students take advantage of while in the co-op program.” She also encourages co-op students to remember that, “Sometimes we focus so much on an end goal or what we want to accomplish, that we completely forget about enjoying the process.”

Holistically reflecting on her time in co-op at UBCO, Parra Montas credits the program with not only enhancing her university experience but allowing her to evolve and advance as a young professional, develop her network, and reignite a passion that will continue to drive her future ambitions. “Co-op has helped me approach my academic and career pursuits in a new way,” says Parra Montas of the experience shaping how her degree can be applied in a wide range of career roles, “Being involved in the co-op program has improved my self-awareness and confidence in knowing I am able to positively contribute and make meaningful impacts within the workplace and greater community, now and in the future.”



UBC Okanagan Interdisciplinary Co-op Education is seeking to recognize a student’s personal and professional growth and development through experiential learning. The annual award recognizes one outstanding UBC Okanagan co-op student in recognition of all aspects of their engagement, including academic standing, workplace performance, and professional/community involvement. A big thank you to the co-op faculty advisors for adjudicating the 20 nomination packages this year.

If you have any questions about the Co-op Student of The Year Award, please contact coop.ok@ubc.ca.