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Lessons From the Improv

As the curtain continues to rise on 2021, I am excited and curious for Capilano University’s next act. There are so many people in our community who deserve a moment in the spotlight for their immense contributions during this unusual time—here are just three who exemplify the improv artist’s creed of “yes, and!”: 

Karen Yip

woman posing in front of trees

"It requires some adaptation, but the online learning environment can be just as creative and fulfilling."
-Karen Yip

Named a “benchmark for paralegal education in B.C.” by the Law Society of BC, CapU’s Legal Studies program boasts a 100 per cent placement rate. “We are a very career-centric program,” says faculty member Karen Yip, “and we are constantly listening to our industry advisors and adjusting the program to adapt to new trends in practice.” CapU offered the first fully online paralegal certificate in Canada more than 20 years ago, and has therefore have been able to build on that deep experience in bringing in-person programs online during the pandemic. “We are preparing our students for remote work environments, strengthening their personal communication and organization skills.”

Yip says she found “blessings in disguise in the current circumstances,” developing richer personal connections with her students through virtual office hours, FaceTime Q&A sessions and social media sharing. “During our conveyancing course, for example, I invited students to show me a picture of the kinds of disputes they may have experienced with their own neighbours—and they sent photos of encroaching trees, lights that never get dimmed, fences that cut across property lines. It really can be very creative and trigger more individualized engagement.”

Jacqueline Pilcher

woman dressed in black posing in front of the camera

“The question is: how will you use the privilege your university education provides?”
-Jacqueline Pilcher

This year’s Ceremony Two Convocation student speaker came to Capilano University as a second-year student after a “life-changing” volunteer experience in Israel. While working with Bridges for Peace, and later with Vancouver’s Union Gospel Mission, she realized she didn’t want to be a dietician as originally planned—but rather to acquire the business skills that would allow her to one day run her own Christian not-for-profit organization. (In the shorter term, Jacqueline plans to apply her accounting skills to a position at KPMG beginning this fall.)

“I found real acceptance and inclusion at CapU,” she says, “and so many opportunities to break out of my comfort zone and learn outside the classroom. University is about trying new things—and that doesn’t need to change because things are online now; there are so many great digital resources out there. Be purposeful with how you spend your time and find a study buddy to keep you accountable. And when you finally graduate, be ready to answer the big question: how will I use the privilege of my university education for the betterment of my community?”.

Daniel Levangie

Man ringing a bell while people behind him clap

“Take every opportunity you can.”
-Daniel Levangie

As AVP of Student Success, Daniel Levangie was not surprised by the results of this fall’s Welcome Survey: “It unfortunately confirmed what we suspected: there was a spike in students struggling to stay mentally strong and to maintain employment in COVID times.”

His advice for building resilience? “I know students are fried from the digital world—but it is our current world! Rather than dodging it, figure out how to harness it in a healthy way. When you have the capacity, look for the kinds of things you’d like to do if they were available in person—maybe a competitive 5K run, or a career fair, or yoga class, or a mental health check in with a counsellor—and then find those same things online through athletics and recreation events or student life programming. Or consider becoming a student leader. It can feel really inspiring to be part of a group doing purposeful work, and the shared energy is contagious—in a good way! To a person, every member of last summer’s orientation leadership team said, ‘That was amazing! What can I sign up for next? How can I lead?’” 

Stay safe and stay connected,


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