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SFU Beedie undergraduate overcame challenges to complete degree and launch HR career

Sep 29, 2021

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Allyson Spence, who will receive her BBA degree at Fall 2021 Convocation

There’s no such thing as a typical SFU Beedie student and no single pathway they follow to earn their degrees; that diversity of experience makes an important contribution to the school’s unique community and learning environment. Allyson Spence, who will receive her BBA with a concentration in Human Resource Management at this year’s fall convocation, exemplifies this ethos.

Like nearly half of SFU Beedie’s undergraduates, Allyson was a transfer student. She joined SFU Beedie in 2020 after studying at Douglas College for two years to gain her accounting diploma, meaning her studies at the school were conducted entirely remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions. In spite of this, she found ample opportunity to participate in co-curricular activities and overcame a range of challenges to successfully complete her degree.

Spence was drawn to SFU Beedie for the experiential opportunities and career support it offers. “The program actually sets people up to find jobs,” she says. “It wasn’t just about getting your degree, Beedie really encourages you to be active and get involved.”

After joining SFU Beedie, she did just that, volunteering for a number of different programs. Incoming transfer students to SFU Beedie go through an orientation program—Transfer Launch—to help them establish friendships with other students and learn about the school’s culture and values. Spence participated in the first remote version of Transfer Launch when joining the school, and then got involved with organizing the next edition, leveraging her own recent experience of going through it to suggest improvements.

She also signed up to the career management centre’s Business Career Coach program, mentoring mostly younger students as they prepared for their careers. This included helping them improve resumés, cover letters and LinkedIn profiles, and conducting practice interviews and mock networking events to help them hone their skills. Meanwhile, she continued to work part-time in a kickboxing gym as a coach.

During her penultimate semester, Spence suffered a family tragedy, losing her grandmother, with whom she had a close relationship, after a series of health issues. “It was finals season, so I was trying to go and see her as much as possible while studying,” she says. “My professors were really good about telling me to just spend as much time with her as possible. I’m lucky that I had the support of my professors and fellow students, for group projects. I was honest with them and told them what was going on and they were super-supportive. I was lucky to have the ability to make friendships in group projects, even though we had never met in person.”

In spite of the challenges of studying through a pandemic and suffering a personal loss, Spence was able to successfully complete her degree and secure a job with an HR consulting firm, which she has now started.

Looking back on her time with SFU Beedie, she emphasizes the value of participating in the community through co-curricular activities. “Definitely don’t like look past that part of your degree,” she says. “When you make the time to do that you definitely get way more learning opportunities and make more connections than you would get from purely coursework. I would encourage other students to get involved with anything, whether it’s clubs or volunteering.”

In the lead-up to our Fall 2021 Convocation, we’ll be sharing stories from across our eight faculties about some of our amazing graduands.

SFU’s Fall 2021 Convocation will be held Oct. 5-8. It will be the university’s first in-person convocation since 2019. The ceremonies will be webcast on SFU’s YouTube channel for those wanting to join in from home and around the world. For more information about SFU’s Fall 2021 Convocation, visit http://www.sfu.ca/convocation.html. Read more about our exceptional graduands here.

 Be sure to share your convocation experience on social media by using the #MySFUGrad hashtag.