Episode 12: The Biggest Battleground: University of British Columbia President, Dr. Santa J. Ono, Shares How Colleges are Leading the Way in the Greatest Challenge of Our Lifetimes

A son of academics and a student of both science and culture, Dr. Santa Ono has always fought the good fight. After years helping build the University of Cincinnati into a winning national brand, he’s now battling COVID-19 north of the border at the University of British Columbia as he works to ready his campus for reopening in the Fall.

On this Episode of The Besomebody Podcast:

5:31 Concerns with the state of education. Nationwide, 17% of students don’t even have a computer at home – according to analysis done by The Associated Press – and 18% of students don’t have broadband internet access. When you think about the expanding divide between ‘the haves’ and ‘the have nots,’ it makes this scary. I’m excited that we’re coming out with, and enhancing and elevating, all these online learning tools, but I’m also concerned about the folks who don’t have access.” -KS

23:08 A global learning from COVID-19. “The biggest thing that we’ve learned from this pandemic is the world has been unprepared. Japan is totally unprepared, the U.S. was unprepared, we’re unprepared. I don’t know anywhere that was really ready. One of the things that we have to take away from this is you can’t start investing in research, you can’t start investing in a pandemic response organization or infrastructure in a nation, when it happens, you have to be ready before. It can happen anytime.” -SO

30:20 COVID-19’s effects on universities. “It’s amazing to think about all the variables, all the impacts this pandemic has created across the board, across the line, from the smallest businesses to the largest corporations. I really believe at the university setting it combines all the aspects because it’s the human element, it’s the learning and the student element, it’s the business element, it’s the sports element. It’s crazy.” -KS

38:47 The coming mental health pandemic. “The next pandemic after COVID-19 is going to be the mental health pandemic. You can already see it…If you look at individuals that are calling into help lines, if you follow the number of women who are accessing support services from being battered, there’s an escalation. I think when you have such a hit to the economy, with the millions of people filing for unemployment or support from the government, that’s not a good situation. And you compound upon that the fact that people, families are isolated. So, they may be struggling with ideas of self-worth and self-confidence. They can’t get out, they can’t let off steam, that’s a real problem.” -SO

48:18 Dr. Ono’s message to the Class of 2020. “The moral of the story, which I hope means something to any of those people, high school kids or university graduates, is that sometimes struggle makes you a stronger person. Sometimes struggle makes you into a better person. My hope for them, and my belief in them, is that this struggle, which is very significant, will eventually be something that makes them stronger, more resilient. It will prepare them to be even better than they might have been. It’s hard to believe when you’re looking at your life from being a very young person, but I can tell you that it’s true. Whatever their challenges are, they will persist, and will emerge more resilient and even better.” -SO

52:24 Kash’s One Big Thing.  “I ran into someone one day and he told me, ‘Hey, I appreciate and acknowledge what you gave up to go after this dream that you have.’ But he said, ‘Just remember that sacrifice is the first step. After the sacrifice comes the struggle. After the struggle comes the suffering. And then after you suffer, then you’ll succeed. So, don’t stop.’ It still gives me goose bumps to this day because he gave the road map of how to build, grow, and succeed.” -KS