A journey with a love of learning, passion for justice, and transferring to UBC: Mira Ghattas


Mira Ghattas


📕 Specialization: 3rd year, International Relations Major 


🏡 Home is: I was born and raised in Jordan, but my roots are from Palestine. I immigrated to Canada in 2012. I became Canadian in 2018, which I am grateful for. I consider everywhere I live in the present moment home. All places are equally important and cherished in my heart & memory. I consider home within me. I am not attached to any physical location. I have travelled so far over 20 countries, and each place has its uniqueness.


✨ “I am 38 years old. I love life, fun, education, people, cultures, politics, building relations globally, and justice, which I hold dear to my integrity and values. I was always involved in some sort of activism throughout my life. I love serving societies and people, especially women, vulnerable people, and minorities. Furthering my education was one of my dreams since a young age, but I couldn’t afford to achieve it. I’ve been through a lot to be able to go back to school. I was privileged to thrive in Canada, which opened so many doors and opportunities for me. My background experience is in banking & accounting, which wasn’t my passion. I was able to return to school in 2016. I went to Douglas College, and it was a transformative educational experience. I was thriving in studying International & Intercultural Studies, and graduated with a high GPA, and got a scholarship to Italy. I won the BC Lieutenant Governor Medal for Inclusion, Democracy, and Reconciliation for the year 2019-2020. I graduated during the pandemic in June 2020. I wanted to do well in order to apply to UBC and be accepted.”


🌎 Why did you decide to major in IR? 

I always wanted to study IR as a major to broaden my understanding, knowledge & perspectives on how the world functions. IR major is so fascinating to me because it encompasses many fields of studies that we can choose to specialize in afterward. We can learn history, political science, cultures, languages, development of nations, nation-states, economy, environment, war and peace studies, diplomacy and security studies, GRSJ, law and society, human rights, global issues, and much more.

I couldn’t see myself studying anything else; especially that I am 38 years old now. I saw myself as I was born to major in IR. Studying IR with further specialization or doing a double major will enhance and transform my learning experience academically, and equip me to be ready for a future career that fulfills me and helps me make a positive change in the world.

UBC is one of the top, world-class institutions that leads with its strong academic and research reputation and provides activities, facilities, clubs, & connects students to other top global academic institutions. All in all, this prepares us to have the best essential knowledge, networking, and skills to be ready for careers paths on the international stage, not only in Canada but anywhere in the world. My experience with UBC faculty, TA’s, and administration staff have been nothing less than outstanding and impressive; they are always professional, supportive, and kind at the same time.


🌎 What’s one thing that you’ve done as a student at UBC that stands out to you?

I have started my first semester at UBC during the pandemic in September 2020. I still haven’t been able to check out the whole campus, get involved in networking and activities. I am looking forward to returning to campus and getting involved. I am overwhelmed with the variety of aspects and platforms that UBC offers online. I am still learning and thinking about where to focus my work and involvement when I am ready. I want to serve and get involved with an area that fulfills me and allows me to help others on campus or in a community, or make a change.


🌎 Favourite IR class?

My Favorite Classes are HIST 432, a one-year course with Dr. Jessica Wang and Lara Silver. And POLI 325, a post-Soviet Russian politics student directed seminar with Dr Lisa Sundstrom & student coordinator Emmett Mark. I am not taking many classes during the pandemic. Hopefully, we get back to normal soon, and I am looking forward to exploring many other classes within my major and other disciplines.


🌎 What’s your UBC journey as a transfer student been like? Do you have any advice for students who are looking to transfer to UBC and major in IR?

My UBC journey as a transfer student has been delightful.  My main goal was to transfer to UBC and further my education, majoring in IR.  During the summer of 2020, I  discovered that I needed to apply to the IR program and then get approved to be able to declare IR as my major.

While I missed the deadline, the UBC Enrolment Services Advisor advised me to send an email to the IR program manager to get approval to submit a late application. I was scared that I wouldn’t make it. When I sent an email to Jaylene Olsen [who was the IR Program Manager at the time], she was amazingly supportive and helped me to apply. I believe she was an angel who helped me get through this. Afterward, I was approved by the Co-chairs of the IR program. I broke down crying of joy at that moment which I always wanted, thought about, and worked hard towards throughout the years. I am forever grateful for the opportunity they gave me. Still, most importantly, I am honored that they recognized my potential and hard work. This has changed my life.

My advice for students looking to transfer to UBC and major in IR is that they need to apply early, reach out, ask about the procedure to apply, attend sessions & webinars, and learn about what IR entails. 



“It’s crucial to keep your GPA high and work hard, volunteer & serve your community, and pay it forward. IR is a selective and competitive program, but it is so rewarding.” -Mira Ghattas


🌎 Share a piece of advice for future IR majors. 

I encourage every student who has a passion and motivation for understanding and changing the world to apply for IR at UBC. You will have the best academic experience and the right platforms to prepare you to excel with your skills and communication and to get involved on a local & global level because of its diversity.  Whether your passion is to work in government, or security studies institutions, or as a diplomat, or with local or international NGOs, or if you want to make a change in the world and be involved in global issues, this is the best choice for you to fulfill your dreams and aspiration. Always dream big, Give it all you got without hesitation, and don’t let anything stop you. Wherever you are in your life, remember it’s never too late. It’s worth it, I promise.

I leave you with on of the best quotes that I love: “to realize one’s destiny, is a person’s only real obligation.” (Paulo Coelho)



More IR Student Stories here