Jas Cheema

Graduate, UBC Certificate in Intercultural Studies

"To think it all started with the UBC Centre for Intercultural Communication," reflects Jas Cheema, referring to her dedicated and dynamic career in intercultural communication and workplace diversity.

When Jas enrolled in the UBC Certificate in Intercultural Studies in 2004, she was already well versed in intercultural communication through her volunteer work with immigrants in the community and with organizations such as the Surrey Hospice Society, Surrey Food Bank and the Surrey Public Library. Her decision to the take the program was as much about wanting to formalize her skills as it was about good timing.

"I truly believe I was meant to take this program," says Jas. "I was attending another seminar at UBC and saw the Intercultural Studies brochure on the rack. I put it in my binder to explore later. That week I was given a layoff notice, so I picked up the brochure again and thought this would be a great fit since I wouldn't be working. I signed up the next day only to find out later that the notice would be rescinded and I would be balancing work, family and furthering my education."

The program gave Jas a chance to study something she truly enjoyed and provided her with the theoretical background to perfect the skills she had developed through her work and volunteer experience. "The most valuable thing I learned was that intercultural communication is not about knowing every culture and faith group out there; it's more about understanding your own values and stereotypes and how they are formed so that you have a heightened awareness of your reactions and assumptions," explains Jas.

After completing the UBC Certificate in Intercultural Studies, Jas went on to earn a Masters in Professional Communication with a specialization in Intercultural Communication from Royal Roads University. In turn, this opened more doors for her, and she now teaches a Contemporary Issues (Diversity in the Workplace) course she developed for the Royal Roads Masters program.

In addition to her teaching, Jas works as the Manager of Diversity Services for Surrey Memorial Hospital and operates her own consulting firm. And, if she wasn't already busy enough, Jas also finds time to give back to the program that started her on her active career. She recently became an online facilitator for the UBC Certificate in Intercultural Studies.

"It's so interesting to work with students from around the globe, and as I assist them I also learn from their experiences," observes Jas. "This is a very practical program, one that you can take back and use on a personal level in your own home, in the community or as a career."