Angela Kaija has won a 2020 President’s Staff Award for “Enhancing the UBC Experience”!
Kaija, the Manager of the Department of English Language and Literatures, has enjoyed a 20-year career at UBC.
She says the most rewarding part of her career has been the chance to connect with others.
“It’s the opportunity to meet so many great people, be part of the community, and take pride in it,” says Kaija. “UBC has offered me the opportunity to learn and take action. To think and to solve problems. It has just been amazing. UBC has given me so much.”
Kaija started her journey with UBC as a student in 1972, earning a Bachelor of Arts with a major in theatre studies.
“It was in the time of glitter rock. I remember going to classes with my face painted with sparkles,” Kaija says with a laugh.
After finishing her degree at UBC, she went to Simon Fraser University to undertake theatre studies, then moved to Toronto to pursue her love for theatre and work in the industry. There, she met her husband, who was also from Vancouver. She also learned the harp and promoted learning the instrument throughout Ontario in various music, theatre, and poetry performances.
Little did she know she would return to UBC in 2000, when she got a job at the Faculty of Graduate Studies as the Killam Secretary, dealing with awards. Four years later, she moved to the Department of English, where she is now the Manager.
Kaija feels that theatre has re-entered her life, albeit in a different way than she expected it to, as she has found that her background in theatre has served her unexpectedly well in her current role.
“When I first started, I used my improvisation skills in the ‘theatre of the real.’ I said to myself, ‘Imagine you are the manager of one of the very best English departments in the world. Imagine you have to do this and that. Now—go! I was coping in the moment, learning, listening, taking action, and trying things.”
One thing she has learned is a respect and appreciation for the rules and regulations that guide people at UBC.
“I find policies and procedures help us get things done properly in a way that’s accountable. They can sometimes slow you down or come into conflict with certain things, but you solve them by helping things work within the rules,” says Kaija. “We draw experiences to us to teach us things.”
Congratulations, Angela, on receiving a President’s Staff Award!