Student Spotlight: Lilian Atieno Odera

Be The Change You Wish To See In The World

Fourth year BMS student Lilian Atieno Odera shares how her studies in media led to diverse social justice projects on Afrocentrism, decolonization, and inclusivity in the learning environment.

Transferring to the BMS

Born in Kenya, and raised in both Germany and Kenya, Lilian has had an international education since birth. Her dual education in Europe and Africa gave Lilian a unique experience before choosing to attend UBC. After completing the Coordinated Arts Program, Lilian successfully transferred to the BMS, and began exploring her interests in communications, and how technology and media inform the way we think today.

During her first few years in the program, Lilian explored the various perspectives on media theory with her peers and instructors. She appreciated the interdisciplinary aspect of the BMS, which helped her look at all of the different areas of learning in a more holistic approach. From her studies in media, Lilian found there was a demand for black and African perspectives that reflected her own experiences, which she has strongly advocated for her during her time at UBC.

Getting Involved in the Local Global Community

After settling into her academics, Lillian was motivated to study media in her own way, and began exploring the workshops offered through the UBC Global Lounge, an inclusive space for students looking to deepen their knowledge of global communities through peer learning. Lilian participated and organized a number of workshops in the Global Lounge, learning from her peers and building her community on campus. She recommends it as a resource for all students, especially international students looking to connect with their peers in an educational and social environment.

From Co-Op to Conference

In addition to her BMS studies, Lilian has also taken advantage of the Arts Co-Op program through a placement with the UBC Centre for Student Involvement and Careers (CSIC) as a Front Desk Attendant. At CSIC, she helped facilitate jobs for students and coached students on how to access career resources on campus. She was also an executive of the UBC Africa Awareness Initiative, an AMS club, where she planned the annual four day Conference Week  to promote the UBC African Studies Program.

“Annual UBC Africa Awareness Initiative Conference Week”
African Awareness Initiative 

Throughout her professional experiences with Co-Op, she learned about a cohesive education model, where different units work together to create an inclusive learning environment for students. The result was her interest in studying Afrocentrism with others in an inclusive environment, and sharing ideas amongst diverse groups of people. Lilian consulted with a number of UBC faculty to help build and organize Afrocentrism, which is defined as a “the philosophical view point and study of global history of people of African descent” (“What is Afrocentrism”).  As the Event Coordinator, Lilian and her team focused on ways to incorporate non traditional learning methods and environments to study Afrocentrism.

“Afrocentrism Conference 2019”
Afrocentrism Conference 

Lilian will be graduating from the BMS program this coming May, and hopes to continue studying education and media by exploring indigenous knowledge systems abroad, and how those systems can play into local culture. In recognition of one of her favorite authors Toni Morrison, Lilian shared the following quote:


“Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming that freed self was another.”
– Toni Morrison