What are your main responsibilities or activities in your current position?
I am currently Associate Professor of Social Studies Education in the Department of Elementary Education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. I teach undergraduate courses in Social Studies curriculum and pedagogy and graduate level courses in social studies, curriculum studies, and qualitative research methodologies. I also supervise Master's and Ph.D. students. My Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada-funded research focuses on students’ understandings of democratic concepts, diversity, identity, citizenship and the relationship between students’ ethnic identities and their understandings of history. In addition to teaching and research, I also serve the department, faculty, and university communities through service on various committees. I also contribute to the profession by offering professional development workshops and serving as a consultant to various provincial, national, and international educational organizations. It's pretty busy, but it's a great gig!
How does your current work relate to your graduate degree?
The work that I am doing now is a direct extension of my Ph.D. work. I was hired before I had completed my dissertation so that was a bit challenging at first - I recommend getting your dissertation done before you start a new job if possible. On the other hand, at the time, the position I was hired into was my "dream job" (and still is) so I'm glad that I seized the opportunity when I did. Many of things I did during graduate school have helped me today - as a grad student, I was involved in many different projects which helped me develop my project management, research, and communication skills. In addition, I developed many strong professional connections both nationally and internationally which have led to collaborative research and writing projects.
Is your current career path as you originally intended?
Yes! In my high school yearbook, I wrote "Professor" as my future job. I'd forgotten about that until I went to a high school reunion a few years ago. Funny how things work out. My route to this job wasn't direct: I worked in management in the retail industry for a number of years before becoming a teacher and then found my "home" in academia. I'm very happy how things worked out.
What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?
I came to UBC specifically to work with Dr. Peter Seixas, an internationally-renowned expert in history education. Dr. Seixas held a Canada Research Chair and had opened The Centre for the Study of Historical Consciousness (CSHC) just prior to the beginning of my studies. The CSHC proved to be a dynamic space for work and study, and many of the people I met during my time at the CSHC and UBC are still friends and colleagues today.
What key things did you do, or what attitudes or approaches did you have, that contributed to your success?
Graduate work can sometimes feel lonely, especially if you aren't part of a lab or a research centre. Maintaining a support network was crucial for me. I am at my best when I can collaborate with others and worked hard to nurture relationships with friends and colleagues throughout my time at UBC. Many of my professors and peers are still friends/colleagues today.
What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?
Meet as many people as you can and get involved in as much as you can handle! Diverse experiences will enable you to develop a complex skill set that will be useful in any career.