Allison Gonzalez Biagi graduated from Kwantlen Polytechnic University in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a minor in policy.
During her time at KPU, she was a student representative on the Senate and the Board of Governors, president of the Kwantlen Student Association, and a research assistant with the Kwantlen Educational Policy Incubator (KEPI).
She was also a member of over 10 committees at KPU, including the Healthy Campus Committee, the Alumni Association Board, three Campus Operation Committees, several Search Committees, the Student Experience Committee and the Wilson School of Design User Committee.
Biagi was selected as one of 20 delegates selected across Canada to represent the Canadian Federation of University Women at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
Without the opportunity to explore her interests through KPU’s courses and extracurriculars, Biagi says she may never have discovered her love for political science and policy.
Her passion for serving and making an impact within her community is what led her to policy in the first place, she says, and it continues to guide her in her current policy analyst role with the British Columbia government.
Currently, she’s helping create a framework for emergency management in the province.
When did you join the KPU community, and why?
I first joined the KPU community in 2009. It took me quite a few years to finally get a degree. I chose KPU over other institutions because I really liked the smaller class sizes. I knew that for my learning style I would do much better in a smaller class size. I also wanted to be able to develop relationships with my instructors. I felt that was really important, and I’m so glad that I did that.
What is your favourite story of your time at KPU?
While I was part of KEPI, we worked on a project with the school districts and the ministries to create a pilot program where we accepted students ONLY using portfolios and not grades. They could include things they’d done in their personal lives or at work. It didn’t have to be things that they did academically through school.
We got to work with a group of high school students to develop portfolios to admit them to KPU, and they were successful. A lot of the students got into KPU and were able to start their academic careers, and that was really satisfying.
For a place like KPU, it really opened the scope to what we would consider in terms of skill sets that are beyond academics. I think that’s important in terms of opening the doors for people.
I think that encouraging more people to come to university and providing that opportunity with less barriers so that they can find their interest in a work area that they would have never seen themselves in is really important.
What is something you’d like to say to people new to the community?
If you had told me 10 years ago that I was going to be working as a policy analyst, there’s absolutely no way I would have believed you because academically I really struggled through the first couple years of university. I definitely didn’t think of myself as an academic, but having the opportunity to go to university and experience a number of different courses and find my interests, which then led me to tap into those skills quite easily, surprised me.
KPU offers a lot of opportunities to get involved in the community, and almost all of them will contribute to your professional experience, even if it’s just volunteering. That was absolutely critical for me in terms of being able to graduate. I got an internship at the Legislative Assembly of B.C. I got a job immediately as a policy analyst with the province, and I only got that because of all the volunteer work and community things I was able to partake in on top of my education.
Of course, a lot of people work. But for example, during my time with the KSA when you’re on the executive board, those are paid positions. If you have the time, I would definitely recommend taking part in the community.
What are you working on right now?
I’m on maternity leave right now, but I work for Emergency Management B.C. (EMBC), which is in the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General. I’m also on the policy and legislation team there. We collaborate with local authorities for the province’s response to floods, fires, and COVID as well. We’re building a framework for what can be done in emergencies.
One of the biggest pieces of going into policy was being able to serve my community. I feel so lucky to be able to work with so many people whose driver is also that. A lot of the people at the EMBC are ex-navy, ex-military, ex-firefighters, and working alongside people who devoted their lives to helping others and to serving has been really humbling and amazing. It can also be quite stressful and overwhelming at times when things get serious, but you feel like you’re having an impact, which is great.
What is something you would like people to know about you?
I’m Colombian. I’ve been in Canada since 1999, and I speak Spanish. I don’t think people would know that because, even when I’m in Colombia, people ask, “Where are you from?”
My parents also own a hot sauce company called Dyana’s Aji.