A Quick Study with Marc Apduhan

This ongoing series is aimed at getting to know what motivates and inspires UBC students about their learning — inside and outside the classroom.

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Marc Apduhan

On heading into the unknown, forging friendships through leadership, happy music, and finding focus.

Meet Marc Apduhan, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Faculty of Applied Science.


Why UBC?

MA: The earliest instance I recall hearing the word “UBC” followed by “respectable university” probably came a day after I arrived in Canada at the young, adaptable age of eight from the Philippines. Where I grew up in Surrey, BC, the University of British Columbia was a prestigious school many aspired to go to. I made it a goal to attend this university – it didn’t matter what program, I just wanted to go here. Fast track to now, and I realize I was making a big gamble back then. I had never explored the campus, never really talked to any alumni from UBC, nor had I explored all the programs UBC offered. All I knew was UBC had a great Engineering program, and Engineering was something I wanted to try out. One letter of admission later and I was heading into the unknown. I was scared, yet excited that I was finally realizing a goal I had been working on since my early youth.

No regrets. My time in UBC has been absolutely phenomenal. Many questions I didn’t know I wanted to ask were answered as time went on. Now I’m answering these questions for others! My goal was finally accomplished, but with it paved the way for more new, sophisticated goals (but now, with more thought put into these goals).


You are studying Chemical and Biological Engineering. When you think of what you are learning, what lights you up?

MA: Fire: the rapid oxidation of a material in which the combustion process releases light, flame and heat. It can also mean one’s enthusiasm in something. What lights me up? Chemical and Biological Engineering (CHBE) spans many fields of learning; anything that requires chemistry and a specific chemical/biological process is studied to a certain extent in CHBE. I like to study the environmental and biological side of this wide spectrum, and that is my “fire”.

Marc Apduhan

Imagine my pleasant surprise when the things I learned were applied immediately in the workforce. Being in co-op as a Water Treatment Engineering Student has strengthened that fire.

I light up every time I find more and more of what I have learned applied to what I do (be it direct application such as regulating treated water, or more theoretical such as creating diagrams and project proposals). The underlying inorganic, organic and physical chemistry and its processes lead to some pretty cool things.

Marc Apduhan


You have been a ‘MUG’ leader, a Jump Start Leader and now an Orientations Leader. What draws you to this kind of role and what has it given you over the years?

MA: Back then, Imagine Day Orientation Leaders were called MUG (My Undergraduate Group) Leaders, and Jump Start Orientation Leaders were simply called Jump Start Student Leaders. The first one-on-one interaction I had where I could ask about everything was with my MUG leader. In many cases, you’re the first person an incoming student interacts with; therefore, it’s very important to know what you’re talking about and to know who to refer to if you don’t (don’t lie!). Coming into first year, I was ecstatic to have that resource.

Now, I find it’s me answering the questions! As an Orientation Leader, you become a friend, and those friendships stay long after your role is complete. I’ve also found myself pretty knowledgeable about the ins and outs of UBC, with a huge support group because of Orientations. Both MUG and Jump Start leaders are now known as Orientation Leaders, but their goals of aiding incoming undergraduates remains the same. Everyone who leads these programs are still the best people ever, and the people you meet still form long lasting friendships with you.


What are your favourite hangouts on campus?

MA: Gosh, I haven’t really hung out on campus for a year because of co-op! Things change in the University of Building Construction, every time I visit something new always pops up.

The last time I spent most of my time at UBC, it was a mix of the CHBE Building, the Old SUB, and the Axis Building. For the coming year, I foresee a lot of the CHBE Building (being in CHBE, as well as being in Engineers without Borders), the Nest, and the Axis Building. I do love exploring in and out of campus though, so if you don’t find me in any of those places, you’ll have to text me to find me!


What has to happen for you to lose yourself in your work?

MA: I’m simple. I like to work around 4-5 AM in the morning when I operate optimally (and with the least distractions), listen to some classical music (or just lively music with no words), and sip some cool refreshing water.

Avoid doing work on the bed at all costs. You will become ensnared by the comfort.


What is on your playlist these days?

MA: A little bit of everything. Usually when people ask me I tell them this, “I have two types of music I listen to: very happy music, and very mellow music.” Of course, including the instrumentals for when I work. Depending on my mood, I like to listen to very upbeat music when I want to keep my energy or more mellow tunes when I’m winding down. It’s a little bit of everything, there’s not really one artist that stands out.

(A lot of Bruno Mars though).


You are an Engineering Ambassador for UBC as well as an Applied Science Squad Leader—clearly leadership is a through line for your life. How have your leadership skills grown since you’ve been at UBC?

MA: One thing I’m glad I’ve improved is the ability to properly allocate my time. In my first year, I fell into that trap and participated in everything I could, and that was not fun. You think you can juggle everything like in high school, but university requires much more in order to ensure you’re bringing good quality to your curricular and extra-curricular activities.

Now I focus my time on a few projects. I have a new venture I am co-leading in Engineers without Borders with Kirsten Meng: the Sustainability Venture. Since it’s new, I have a lot of malleability with what to do with it. I’m confident it will start strong, and continue strong in EWB and UBC. I’m also looking into a couple design projects.

Marc Apduhan

Marc Apduhan

Marc Apduhan


If you could go back to your first year self and tell them something surprising about your third year experience at UBC what might it be?

MA: You’ll be surprised, but you’ll be working for sixteen months, after only finishing second year – and loving it. It was by chance that you happened to finish a 4 month co-op work term, and follow it with a 12 month work term.

Marc Apduhan

The good news is that it will be nothing but positive on your end. You will love it. You will feel a bit anxious returning to UBC after being gone for so long (probably a good idea you took a summer class to ease your transition from working full time to studying full time), but it will be worth it. Think about the projects you’re involved in, and narrow it down to the ones you love deeply. It will save you a lot of stress and worry.


What are you most looking forward to on Imagine Day?

MA: May I name a couple? My favourite part would definitely be meeting next year’s students. They’re always so full of energy, and fun to talk to. Reminds me of when I started UBC. I love hearing about their stories, finding out what their plans are, and learning more about them.

I also love the part where we see all the clubs and organizations UBC has on Imagine Day. All clubs set up stands to recruit new members. Not only can you get free samples, but it’s your chance to find your niche. Just don’t overdo it, like what I had done.

You’ll definitely see me on campus, performing my duties as a Squad Leader, Engineering Ambassador, and Sustainability Venture Co-Lead for EWB! I hope to see you then. So please, come say hi if you see me.

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