Inaugural Alumni Night at the CENES Department

Photo by Elizabeth Nolan

By Ashley Samsone

The inaugural CENES Alumni Night has been a significant highlight of the 2022-23 Academic Year, showcasing not only the breadth of programs and career options that CENES provides, but also what fantastic events can arise when students, faculty and staff collaborate.

On October 5, 2022, nearly 75 attendees gathered to explore the variety of pathways for students and graduates of the Department of Central, Eastern and Northern European Studies (CENES), with a panel of CENES alumni representing each of the four programs in the department (Major and Minor programs in German Studies, Major in Modern European Studies, Minor in Russian, and Minor in Scandinavian Studies).

Back in February 2022, 4th-year Scandinavian Studies Minor Ashley Samsone proposed the idea of an alumni night to CENES administration. The idea and motivation behind the event come from Samsone’s experience with other UBC Alumni panels, and engaging with their alumni network to find mentors and storytellers.

“An event like this provides students the chance to understand what opportunities they can find, or make on their own, with a CENES degree.”
Scandinavian Studies Minor

Working alongside various members from CENES who supported the idea from the very beginning, and alumni UBC over the course of several months, the first CENES Alumni Night became a reality.

The beginning of the event was dedicated to reconnecting with peers in person and networking with faculty and alumni. As a panel-style event, making these connections was an important component to the event’s success. A big part of this can be attributed to Salishan Catering, an Indigenous catering company located in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver, for their delicious and expansive menu that was the star of the hour.

From left to right: Cicely Belle Blain, Gabrielle Bonifacio, Jordan Kantypowicz and Minori Kato-Hopkins (Photo by Elizabeth Nolan)

Each panelist represented a program CENES offers, whose various careers provided unique perspectives and insights to life after a UBC undergraduate degree. Panelists included Cicely Belle Blain (BA’16, Modern European Studies / Russian Minor), Gabrielle Bonifacio (BMS’22, Media Studies / German Minor), Jordan Kantypowicz (BA’22, International Relations Russian Minor), and Minori Kato-Hopkins (BA‘19, English / Scandinavian Studies Minor). Full panelist bios can be found here.

Samsone led the moderated panel through a series of questions that touched upon languages, choosing CENES as a degree, life after CENES, getting involved at UBC during their undergraduate degree, and more. It was an inspiring conversation, followed by various questions from the audience.

All in all, the inaugural CENES Alumni Night was a success, and there are high hopes it becomes a departmental tradition.