Graduate Student Leaders Show Dedication Through Development, Advocacy, and Mentorship

Hammad Ahmad, Dr. Paul Shipley, & Kirthana Ganesh

The new UBC Okanagan Graduate Dean’s Student Leadership Award is given to graduate students who have made outstanding contributions to the graduate experience at UBCO. This year, we had a number of exceptional students nominated for the award. The adjudication committee was amazed by the commitment and passion shown by so many graduate students at UBCO! Ultimately, the committee determined that two students would be recognized for their outstanding service during their time at UBCO. Congratulations to Hammad Ahmad, PhD student in Civil Engineering, and Kirthana Ganesh, PhD student in Psychology!


Hammad began his graduate student journey at UBCO in 2019. Since joining UBCO, Hammad has organized over 70 events for students at UBC. In addition to organizing events, Hammad has also been actively involved in the Engineering Graduate Students’ Society (EGSS), Graduate Student Committee (GSC), Muslim Students’ Association, Pakistan Students’ Association, and the Tennis Club, which he started in 2022. Hammad was a member of the EGSS during the COVID pandemic, and was able to deliver 8 events during this challenging period. Hammad has also been an active volunteer at convocation and at graduate student orientation events. Moreover, Hammad has been a graduate community facilitator during different times throughout his program, ensuring that fun events are planned for graduate students and that graduate students have opportunities to connect across programs. In addition to his volunteer work, Hammad has been actively involved in advocacy for graduate students. Hammad has advocated for issues including food availability and timing, physical wellbeing opportunities, and leadership recognition. Thank you for the contributions you have made to our campus Hammad!


Kirthana started her UBCO journey in 2019 and is close to defending her dissertation. During her time at UBCO, she has served as the UBC Students’ Union Okanagan (SUO) Graduate Student Representative, helping to expand mental health coverage for students, creating community building opportunities for incoming graduate students, advocating for international student wellbeing, and improving the SUO’s accountability towards graduate students. In particular, she has helped establish the GSC as a standing committee within the SUO, to amplify graduate student voices. Kirthana has also served as the International Student Representative on the Graduate Student Advisory Council, and as treasurer and social media coordinator for the Psychology Graduate Students’ Association and the Mental Health Awareness and Advocacy Committee. Kirthana is currently a member of the Graduate Student Affordability Taskforce seeking to address affordability issues specific to graduate students (e.g., tuition, childcare, housing, health). Kirthana is also a mentor with Women in Science and Engineering and is a founding member of the Action for Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity in Psychology initiative. Thank you for your advocacy and support Kirthana!

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