Agricultural Ecomonics Masters Program Student Testimonials

Maureen Gitata

Maureen grew up in Nyahururu, Kenya. She graduated from MFRE in 2015. maureen“The MFRE’s focus on applied economics, policy, and agribusiness management was very well aligned with my career goals,” she said. “I wanted to gain advanced studies in economics and specialize in a field relevant to international development, and it’s provided me with a wide range of skills and knowledge.” In Kenya, agriculture contributes 30% of the country’s GDP. Through the MFRE program, Maureen learned the economics of the agricultural sector, and the policies that are necessary to uplift the agricultural sector and economy of Kenya, as well as other developing countries that rely on agriculture as the key driver of economic growth. After graduation, Maureen returned to Kenya, where she accepted a consultant position with Dalberg Global Development Advisors, a strategy consulting firm focused on development. Read more about Maureen’s experience in the LFS Reachout here.

Grace Chan

“I chose the Master of Food and Resource Economics (MFRE) program because it’s a unique and professional degree program which is quite different from the conventional, thesis-based Master programs. MFRE is one of the very few programs comprising intensive full-time coursework and a summer internship, all to be completed within 1 year. Apart from the interesting, diverse yet in-depth teaching topics, the program is particularly rewarding in the sense that it facilitates close ties among students, professors, and staff. With a relatively small class size of some 20 people, students can easily build up friendships with one another through daily communications, projects and activities. I’m very fortunate to have met many good friends and have remained in touch with them even after the program is over. The professors and staff are also very caring to students. They are concerned about students’ learning progress and needs, and have kept an open mind to constantly modify their teaching methods to make the MFRE program a success.My summer internship at the Ministry of Environment (Vancouver) was another highlight of the year. There I was given the opportunity to apply my academic knowledge and devote my interests towards environmental policies and issues. I enjoyed my internship very much and have built up good working relationships with my on-site supervisors. Although I’m not able to work further in the Department as an employee after my internship, I’m very grateful for having such a precious opportunity to work for the Government and the experience so gained included in my resume.”

Paul Chiang

“One aspect of the program that I really enjoyed was the collegial relationship between students, staff and faculty. It created an environment where students were encouraged to seek the faculty members for assistance, or even just to chat. The faculty’s extensive global network has granted many of us opportunities to connect with the food and natural resource sectors, either private firms, governments or international organizations overseas. In the last semester of the program, I undertook a 4-month graduating project with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre in Summerland, B.C., where I gained professional experience working in a federal research facility. I feel that my academic ability and business experience have been well complimented and challenged by the faculty of Food and Resource Economics. Overall, I am very pleased with the knowledge and skills I have gained through the Master of Food and Resource Economics.”

Nia Gan

“The Faculty of Land and Food Systems in UBC offers diverse areas of study with excellent teachers, small classes and wide variety of careers for graduates. If you have interest in food and agriculture under global environment, there is no better place to ignite your passion, unlock your potential and nurture your mind. My education has helped me in numerous ways, both in my professional career and in my personal life. I have developed a confidence in myself and my abilities that I did not possess before I took this program. I have also developed my skills to a degree that I have become a valuable asset to my department of a trading company in Toronto. Being one of MFRE graduates, I highly recommend you to join us not only learning to have a bright future but also to be a brilliant dreamer.”

Wanggi Jaung

“The lessons and experiences of the MFRE program were a profound step for me to be more professional in the fields of agriculture and resources economics. Although it was one year, I was able to obtain both lessons and experiences from the program. The lessons, theories, and research methodologies from the classes are now valuable assets for my current works and future careers, and the experiences from my internship also enabled me to open my eyes to the gaps between textbooks and fields. For my MFRE internship, I worked with a microfinance organization, FINCA Peru, in Ayacucho, Peru, where I both ran their projects and conducted project analyses. MFRE is an intensive program, but after all the hard work, I gained many valuable things.”

Shoren Jin

“I am glad to be one of the first graduating class of MFRE. I would like to recommend our program if you would like to learn more applied economics in food and resource sectors. The principles and skills learned from analyzing public policies and evaluating proposals through MFRE’s courses are beneficial in your future workplace. Also, the internship – in my case developing a marketing plan to raise funds for building a bio-fertilizer plant for poultry waste. It gave me a chance not only to work with a great team but also a chance to learn from the Company’s best environmental facilities. Currently, I am very lucky to work at Dell Computers (in Shanghai, China) as Marketing Specialist, dealing with vendor funding for Australia, New Zealand and India. MFRE is awesome! Thanks, MFRE!”

Kate Pankowska

“What MFRE program gave me goes much beyond the classroom-delivered load of theory in agricultural economics, trade and policy. I became a part of a very interesting natural experiment where people from different parts of the world, with different work ethics, academic backgrounds, and cultures came together to learn and work. I was amazed how easily this group of people was able to cooperate in order to finish work in a timely manner. I became especially excited when I was observing what happened with our last assignment in FRE 501. Basically within one afternoon (with significant use of Internet technology) we were able to break into random groups of about four people and divide work so each group could solve only a part of the assignment and then share their results with others. Wouldn’t it be amazing if the whole world could work in the same manner as we did? I mean quick, efficient and benefiting all stakeholders. But this group of MFRE people didn’t only focus on work. We also had amazing house parties (especially those in Vincent’s house), hot pot dinners or casual beer nights. When I was enrolling into the MFRE program in 2010, I was very confident that it would be my last degree, my last year at the university, my last time when I would need to prove my abilities, deliver assignments, pass exams and deal with what we know as “university experience.” Well, I was wrong! I’ve just applied to a PhD program. So as you see the MFRE program also helped me discover that I might like to have more schooling after all!

Charlie Tsao

“For any prospective students considering the MFRE program, consider this, how will a graduate program further the learning of economic theories while facilitate the application of these theories in the real world? This is exactly what the MFRE program is able to embody and offer to its students. The mere possibility of having this experience should be one of the greatest selling points a program can provide. From gaining a deeper understanding of the commodity markets to exploring it myself, I was able to obtain a greater appreciation for the various mechanisms that affect us all. Development economics theories that led to lively discussions of markets abroad immensely supplemented this appreciation. Furthermore, up-to-date policy topics and food market roundtables make the program that much more relevant and transferable to a workplace. In addition, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to enhance my learning experience by interning at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), where I was able to put my rich academic background to work. Application of coursework is fundamental, and with MFRE, students have the chance to acquire it!”

Graduation Project Experiences

Jeff Hunter – Interned at Nathan Associates (Jakarta, Indonesia) 

“Wow, so that went by fast. I’m back in Canada. Such a culture shock! So different this land I call home from the craziness known as Jakarta, Indonesia. I was there for my MFRE internship with an economic development firm on a joint project with ASEAN. I had the opportunity to be part of an amazing team that hosted the inaugural public-private sector ASEAN food security conference in Singapore. After which I prepared a report on nutrition and food security that was published and submitted to USAID. The internship was a lot of work, but it was unforgettable. It was so much more than an internship; it was a life changing experience. I mean come on, where else can you go to Bali for the weekend or go on a safari and get bitten on the shoulder by a baby leopard?!? Needless to say, this program was so much more than a typical masters degree. This is a program that will help you develop as an academic, a professional, and most importantly an individual. If you want something that makes you stand apart from the rest, MFRE is the easy choice.”

Sung Kyu Kim – Interned with the Institute of Agriculture, Technology and Education of Kibungo (Ngoma District, Rwanda)

“It is hard to believe that I am in this small rural town called Kibungo in Rwanda. I can hardly imagine myself writing final exams at MacMillan just a month ago! Well, ready or not, here I am with much anticipation and eagerness to undertake my MFRE internship: Improving food security and nutrition in Ngoma District, Rwanda. Our main objective is to conduct baseline assessment of malnutrition and household food security of the rural families with children under five years of age. This particular period is considered crucial in both short-term physical development (i.e. severe malnutrition and chronic deficiencies) and long term personal development (e.g. stunting and wasting). Why is this so important? It is all about realizing and manifesting one’s full potentials. And this includes me as well! This is where my career dream came true…Now I will work to fulfill ‘their’ dreams!” 1NB: Sung Kyu’s internship was a joint partnership between the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Institute of Agriculture, Technology and Education of Kibungo (INATEK)

Helen Zhihui – Interned with Golden Interbridge Trading (Vancouver, Canada)

“I am honored to be a member of the MFRE program. During the three semesters I really got the knowledge and skills which I was looking for. I interned for an international trading company in Vancouver to help the marketing team develop the Asia market for fresh and frozen meat. The marketing team had regular meetings to analyze market trends. We discussed policies, historical price data, the related products’ market state, and the market state of the target product. In fact, almost all of these market analysis skills are practiced during the MFRE program. I’m the biggest beneficiary! Additionally, the internship brought me a lot of knowledge on the logistics, documents in the international trading field, etc. which are definitely conducive to my future career development. I have started working for this Golden Interbridge Trading Company (GIB) as a formal staff member of the marketing department. Thanks, MFRE, which helped me get the first job in my favorite field!”