Alumni: Where Are They Now

Dr. Brandon Konoval
UBC Arts One

Having taught in Arts One for some time now, it has been a special pleasure to watch former students from my seminar graduate from UBC and pursue careers in diverse and fascinating fields. Many of these students have gone on to successfully complete graduate work, and several have told me how helpful they found the seminar and tutorial structure of Arts One as preparation for their studies at Cambridge (King’s College) and at Oxford (at colleges including Balliol, Brasenose, St. Antony’s, and Wolfson).


Most recently, Fatima Zehra Naqvi (Arts One 2012) became a Rhodes Scholar (2018) after completing a BA Honours at UBC in English Literature and Creative Writing, and she is currently working toward an MSc in Migration Studies, Oxford.

Dr. Andy Yu (Arts One 2007) completed his JD at the University of Toronto, and BPhil and DPhil at Oxford, with several recent publications in logic and philosophy of language.

Dr. Kathryn Kelley (Arts One 2004) earned her PhD in Assyriology through the Oxford Oriental Institute (2018), with research that has taken her to archaeological sites and museums across the Middle East and Europe. Dr. Kelley has recently been a postdoctoral fellow here at UBC in the department of Classics, Near Eastern and Religious Studies, and I am fortunate to have other former students as my colleagues at UBC as well:

Dr. Nolan Bett (Arts One 2005) did his PhD research in aquatic ecology with a specialization in salmon studies, and is now with the UBC Science One Program, the sister program of Arts One.

Dr. Chelsea Birks (Arts One 2007) teaches in the department of UBC Film Studies, and her interdisciplinary research explores the relationship between philosophy and film, such as her PhD thesis on Georges Bataille and global cinema.

Beyond UBC, Dr. Aidan Forth (Arts One 2000) completed his PhD at Stanford, and is now a professor of History at Loyola University Chicago. His recent book, Barbed-Wire Imperialism: Britain’s Empire of Camps, 1876–1903 (University of California Press, 2017), has drawn considerable interest and acclaim, and he is currently engaged in a new book project, The Passage to India: Connection and Mobility in a Globalizing World.

Extending beyond the academic realm itself, English Honours graduate and UBC Wesbrook Scholar Esinam Agbemenu (Arts One 2009) completed a law degree at the Columbia Law School. She is now an associate at the prominent New York firm of Simpson Thacher, and is teaching courses in legal writing for the Columbia Law School.

After completing a Masters degree in the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at Cambridge, Donald Pyper (Arts One 2004) pursued law studies at Windsor and is now Assistant Crown Attorney with the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General.

Of course, many students are still deeply engaged in their studies. After receiving the 2010 UBC Political Science Gold Medal, Aylon Cohen (Arts One 2008) completed the MPhil at Oxford with a dissertation on John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government, and is currently completing his PhD at the University of Chicago in Political Science.


From Political Science, English, and creative writing through Assyriology and salmon ecology, and from the history of colonialism and migration studies through global cinema and the law, I am inspired by the initiative and extraordinary range of accomplishment of Arts One students. I am grateful that all of these students—and many, many more—pursued their passions along a pathway that brought them through Arts One.

Update (spring 2022): James McKitrick (Arts One 2018) will begin a Master’s degree in ancient history at University College London in the fall of 2022, after completing a degree in Classics at UBC. Brandon Forys (Arts One 2017) is completing his MA in Psychology at UBC and will be starting the PhD program in the fall of 2022, exploring the psychology of avoidance and approach strategies.