KPU grads recognized with President's Outstanding Graduate Award

Tue, Feb 27, 2024

President's Outstanding Graduate Awards are presented annually to Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) graduates in recognition of exceptional academic achievements and significant contributions to KPU and broader communities.

International student and change management practitioner King Lee, and domestic student and horticulture enthusiast Oliver Cook are this year's award winners. They come from different backgrounds, but both share a deep commitment to serving their communities and show remarkable academic results.

"I want to help others unleash their potential."

King Lee embarked on a learning journey in Canada after a long track of academic achievements and professional experience in Hong Kong.

King Lee
King Lee.

He holds an MBA and an MSc in Information Systems Management from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, earned in 2005. He is a certified change management professional who helps organizations implement transformations successfully. He has held key managerial positions in learning and development at Towngas, Oriental Overseas Container Liner, and MTR Corporation.

"Canada is a place that embraces diverse backgrounds and different voices while respecting each other. I want my children to grow up in such an environment," shares Lee, who moved to Canada with his wife and two kids in August 2022 and restarted his post-secondary education after a 15-year gap.

Motivated to learn Canadian business practices, he enrolled in the KPU General Business Studies Diploma program.

"KPU helped me understand the culture, norms, and behaviours of people in the business world," says Lee.

He furthered his education beyond the classroom by stepping into the role of a peer tutor. Drawing from his experience, he tutored over eighty students with their studies and research projects.

"Many young students struggle with their studies. They are hard-working but not working in a smart way," says Lee. "As a peer tutor, I had the chance to share my experiences with students, help them adapt to different teaching styles, and understand and meet the course requirements."

For Lee, the Outstanding Graduate award serves as recognition for his commitment to academic excellence and his dedication to supporting others.

"It also indicates a direction for more people to notice those in need within society and how they can extend beyond their own accomplishments to support the community," says Lee.

"Nature is a huge part of who people are."

Oliver Cook sees horticulture as a way to interpret nature and understand the world. He has been a student at KPU since September 2018 and pursued a Bachelor of Horticulture Science with a Major in Urban Ecosystems and a Minor in Plant Health.

Oliver Cook
Oliver Cook.

"A significant part of what makes us human is our connection to nature and the outdoors. Our food, air, and all our necessities come from nature. Often, we overlook this," he says. "Integrating nature with the urban environment is the future - it will make everyone happier and make our world better and cleaner."

Cook has always been passionate about nature, plants, and the outdoors. His interest started during his childhood on the Sunshine Coast, where he worked in a local vegetable garden while in high school. His hobby of multi-day backpacking trips helps him fully immerse himself in nature, observe landscapes, and appreciate nature in its purest form.

"It helps me understand ecosystems and habitats, how they work, and how we can incorporate these systems into our urban environment."

Beyond schoolwork, Cook actively volunteers for Metro Vancouver Regional Parks, participating in conservation efforts like invasive species removal and bird monitoring. He's also an ambassador and board member for the Derby Reach and Brae Island Park Association, leading educational walks, annual events, and projects promoting environmental awareness and restoration.

Cook believes that volunteering provides a sense of community and improves networking and communication skills.

"It's an opportunity to work on something bigger than yourself," he says. "It keeps you pushing your boundaries, applying your knowledge and learning."

Cook aspires to become a landscape designer specializing in sustainable development projects to create resilient, healthy and biodiverse-rich communities.

"KPU's urban ecosystem program has enabled me to see the world from diverse perspectives," he shares. "It explores topics from the heat island effect to urban agriculture and discusses the interconnection between various life forms. It equipped me with the tools to understand these ecosystems and identify where they best integrate into the built environment."

Learn more about KPU’s scholarships and awards here.