Distant but connected – Ryan Chandra’s unconventional path to UFV

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Meeting a UFV alum who never set foot on campus is a rarity, but Ryan Chandra proudly holds that distinction. Despite his status as an alum, he navigated his entire degree journey without once stepping on  UFV grounds.

Back in the mid-2000s, UFV, then known as the University College of the Fraser Valley (UCFV), collaborated with Douglas College to launch a pioneering Bachelor of Arts program in psychology. This initiative, aimed to bridge students from Douglas College’s Associate of Arts program to a seamless progression towards their bachelor’s degree; UCFV played a pivotal role, providing third- and fourth-year courses to facilitate degree completion.

This unique partnership was a product of UCFV’s transformation from a university-college to a full-fledged university. Amidst this transition, the institution experimented with diverse program offerings. Under the leadership of VP Academic and Provost Dianne Common, UFV and Douglas College instructors delivered structured cohort programs for third- and fourth-year psychology courses.

Though the psychology partnership is now a relic of the past, its impact endures. Ryan, along with 18 classmates, graduated from this program in 2009, receiving a parchment adorned with UFV’s logo, despite never stepping foot on campus.

Ryan came across the program while exploring his post-secondary options. Beginning with an associate degree in psychology from Douglas College, he sought career guidance from a counselor who introduced him to the UFV partnership program. The prospect of paying tuition to UFV while utilizing the same resources he was used to while remaining in his home community proved enticing.

“Understanding what makes people tick and a general appreciation for psychology has helped inform me on human behaviour.”

Armed with his BA, Ryan charted a career path in human resources, capitalizing on his passion for psychology. He augmented his qualifications with a graduate certificate ‘Strategic HR Management’ from Kwantlen Polytechnic University, carving out a niche in the dynamic HR landscape. Departing from conventional HR paradigms, Ryan focused on nurturing leadership foundations and fostering organizational success through strong ‘people-centric’ practices.

“Understanding what makes people tick and a general appreciation for psychology has helped inform me on human behaviour,” says Ryan, underlining the symbiotic relationship between psychology and HR. “It’s a huge part of making people feel valued as individuals, driving performance at the workplace, and helps look beyond ‘surface-level’ people and culture challenges allowing to get to root causes.”

Recently, Ryan co-founded PeopleWise Solutions, a full-suite HR consulting firm committed to enhancing workplace culture and the employee experience. Their approach emphasizes HR structure, ethics, and processes designed to foster a supportive environment where employees can thrive authentically.

PeopleWise looks at everything from working with leaders to review and establish their mission, vision, and values, streamlining processes to ensuring compliant policies and procedures, and much more.

Understanding human psychology and genuinely caring for people allows me to have insights and ask questions that may not be top of mind, for example “How are the employees being treated? How supported do they feel? Is there a psychological safety net? Is there a workplace culture where employees can be their authentic selves?” asks Ryan. “It’s all kind of interwoven with psychology and human resources.”

Reflecting on his unconventional educational journey, Ryan acknowledges his enduring pride in UFV, despite the physical disconnect. As he delves into UFV’s current endeavors, he finds solace in his distant yet profound attachment to the institution.

“In recent years I was able to find out what UFV is doing,” says Ryan. “There’s so much they’re involved with. So, it’s nice to have that attachment to the organization, even if it was from a distance.”

For more on Ryan’s ventures, visit PeopleWise Solutions at peoplewisesolutions.ca