When life gives you crumbs: Chapman chose a BBA

Emma Chapman

Emma Chapman was terrified by the prospect of moving far from home to attend Royal Roads University. 

“In my whole body I thought I was going to die,” says Chapman. But as hard as it was to leave their family and small community behind, change was coming whether they liked it or not.

As it did for so many, the pandemic upended Chapman’s comfortable life in Castlegar, BC just a short drive from their even smaller hometown of Grand Forks. There, everyone knew Chapman as the mainstay barista behind the counter at the Crumbs Bakery Café. 

In one fell swoop, Chapman lost their café job and their new yoga-teaching business, too. 

“I loved that time of my life so much,” Chapman says. The best part was talking to the regulars and finding out about their lives.

“I want to be able to brighten people’s day, and offer some benefit to them,” Chapman says. “I was learning that local businesses have a real power to bring people together.” 

Chapman knew this would be their life’s work. It was just by chance they stumbled on Royal Roads University’s new Bachelor of Business Administration in Innovation and Sustainability

It looked like the perfect fit. 

Chapman plucked up their courage and packed their belongings, to start the next chapter of their life at RRU in September, 2021. 

The program is based on experiential learning, where students complete a number of projects in the real world. 

The most meaningful to Chapman was a project with a locally owned solar panel manufacturing company. Students were tasked with finding ways to improve the product for better environmental sustainability, despite having no expertise in solar technology. 

The first reaction from the team was disbelief. 

“There's no way that any of us could possibly do this. We're business students!” Chapman recalls thinking. 

But with guidance from the company’s scientists, their team helped identify a possible redundancy that could save on material costs. 

During the program, Chapman also took on a job as a research assistant and helped publish a paper, Ownership Matters, which looks at the challenges and opportunities in community ownership of wealth-generating assets.

Students in the BBA complete their program requirements by fulfilling an internship, a capstone project or a term studying abroad. Chapman chose the latter, at a school in Belgium. 

Chapman graduates from their program this November. They have yet to narrow down a career path, but that doesn’t worry them because they are clear about the values they want to guide them. 

“I know that I want to help organizations innovate their operations, to have a better impact on their local community,” says Chapman. “I can’t change the whole world, but if I can contribute just a little bit toward a good shift, I think I could probably die happy.” 

For now, Chapman’s plan is to stay in Greater Victoria, but they have a message for others who come from small towns.

“Local businesses are getting lost because the owners are retiring and sometimes their kids don’t want to take on the business,” Chapman says. “I think more rural people need to be empowered to take programs like this to help their own communities.” 

As part of their BBA program, Chapman joined their cohort in auditing Royal Roads University’s trash, recycling, and compost streams as part of a project to reduce university plastic waste on campus.

“Digging through trash was a highlight of my final semester at RRU,” Chapman says.

Watch the video to learn more about this “roll-up-your-sleeves” experience. 


Learn more about the Bachelor of Business Administration in Innovation 

& Sustainability.