About Helsa Leong
Helsa Leong was born and raised in East Vancouver and was the eldest of five children, with one younger brother Andy and three younger sisters: Linda, Jeanie and Maime. She joined UBC as a secretary in the Department of Geography in 1977, before moving to the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering in January 1986. She remained employed at the department for over 35 years, until her untimely passing at the age of 56 on the December 1, 2015.
Helsa met Ken Leong while working at the PNE during a high school summer. Ken went on to become an undergraduate student in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at UBC, graduating in 1984. Two years later, Helsa started her work in the same department. She immediately fitted in well, quickly gaining a reputation as a hard-working, reliable and friendly colleague. Ken and Helsa were married in 1987, and have three wonderful children: Katie, Curtis and Derek.
Helsa was a pillar of the graduate programs within Chemical and Biological Engineering, and always promoted a team environment. Her work was always meticulous, and she frequently worked longer hours to make sure every detail was taken care of. Colleagues in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering talk of Helsa’s amazing impact on the graduate students she encountered. They would frequently come to her with concerns, without fail leaving her office with a spring in their step and a smile on their face. She invariably was able to solve whatever problem they faced.
For the past few years Helsa fought cancer with amazing grace, optimism and courage. Towards the end of her life, when she could have stayed home while recovering from chemotherapy or radiation treatments, she would instead come in to UBC. She was without fail cheerful and uncomplaining, and few students ever realized that she was ill. Helsa was looking forward to retiring from UBC to enjoy more time with her family. She was always fond of family vacations and road trips. Her family was a source of inspiration and strength.
Helsa’s heroic approach to life and dedication to her work during such difficult times was unique and inspiring. She enriched the lives of family, faculty, colleagues, friends and generations of students. Her courage, friendship and unwavering commitment to be helpful and pleasant marked her out as a wonderful person, who will be greatly missed by all who knew her.Read More
The impact of your support
In honour of her memory and her enormous courage, dedication and heart, the Helsa Leong Memorial Graduate Scholarship in Chemical and Biological Engineering has been established in the Faculty of Applied Science.
The scholarship will support graduate students and recognize leadership and community service towards improving the lives of graduate students. Your gift will help create a permanent legacy for Helsa’s unfailing dedication to her work and to generations of graduate students.
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