UBC Reports | Vol. 50 | No. 5 | May
Culture and Dance Shaped Wesbrook Scholar
War drove her to Canada
By April Wilson-Lange
Lissette Torres has a passion for life that’s fuelled
by her culture and personal experience.
Torres, 22, immigrated to Canada with her family when she
was seven years old to escape El Salvador’s civil war.
“I’m amazed by my parents courage and selflessness
in deciding to immigrate to Canada,” says Torres, a
political science major who graduates this month. “They
gave up everything for my sisters and I to have a better future.
What they did inspires me.”
Because of this experience, the Wesbrook scholar is fascinated
with immigration policy and law.
That’s why she jumped at the chance to work as a policy
analyst for Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) in Ottawa.
This was one of five co-op work terms she completed while
“It was an exciting time to work for CIC,” she
recalls. “The government was in the process of passing
a new immigration Act. This is an important issue for Canada
because we are a nation shaped by the strength and diversity
of people from all over the world.”
The experience influenced Torres’ academic work and
research. She wrote a term paper on Canada’s new Immigrant
and Refugee Protection Act that was published in the UBC Journal
of Political Studies.
After having a second paper published in the journal, Torres
became its editor-in-chief last fall.
Reflecting her passion for public policy, international diplomacy
and law, Torres has attended several Model United Nation (MUN)
conferences across Canada. Last year, as director of UBC’s
MUN-International Criminal Court, she led the mock trial of
General Augusto Pinochet for crimes against humanity in 1970s
When not engrossed in academic pursuits, Torres performs
in Vancouver for a semi-professional Cuban salsa dance troupe.
“I’ve danced my whole life,” she laughs.
“It’s part of my Latin culture.”
Though a Vancouverite at heart, Torres will relocate to Ontario
in the Fall to attend law school and hopes to eventually work
with the Canadian Foreign Service.