Vanessa Lapointe

My high school principal drilled into his students that it is "not your aptitude but your attitude that determines your altitude in life". I live this out to the fullest.
Registered Psychologist, Clinic Founder, Parenting Educator, Author
Crossfield, Canada
Surrey, Canada
The Infleunce of Neighbourhood on Early Child Development
Laurie Ford

What are your main responsibilities or activities in your current position?

I opened a child development clinic in 2008 and have two published books - Discipline without Damage: How to get your kids to behave without messing them up (2016) and Parenting Right from the Start: Laying a healthy foundation in the baby and toddler years (2019). With these endeavors, my responsibilities are highly varied. I continue to do direct clinical work with children and parents and provide support and supervision to the many therapists who work in my clinic. I also present around about 50 workshops globally each year on topics related to child development, parenting, and mental health, and am a regularly invited media guest and columnist.

How does your current work relate to your graduate degree?

My degree was really all about development, with a specific focus on learning and skill attainment. The work that I do now flows directly from that education and the many truly unique and amazing experiences I had as a graduate student. I think probably the most influential aspect of my graduate work has to be the different placements I had along the way in a wide variety of community settings, AND also the relationships I was able to foster with key members of the early childhood and school communities across BC.

What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?

My current position is amazing in that it is so different every single day. There is no opportunity to stagnate or become bored as I am faced with new and varied challenges and opportunities at every turn. I enjoy that I continue to delve into research as a scientist practitioner, meet all sorts of interesting people, and learn new skills as I continue to develop my business.

Is your current career path as you originally intended?

Absolutely! While I could not have imagined the amazing opportunities I have had, I always knew that the end goal was to work in a wonderfully inclusive environment, with like-minded people, focused solely on the health and well-being of "our" children.

What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?

The freedom to carry on and do the work that I now do! I always knew that education was the way through, and to do the work that I am doing a PhD is a must.

What did you enjoy the most about your time as a graduate student at UBC?

The best part of my education was the people that I met along the way. I am thrilled to count among my team of clinicians several of my graduate school colleagues, which goes to show how important these formative relationships are as we move on with our lives. I also met amazing researchers during my time at UBC who were involved with incredibly important and pivotal work on the world stage in terms of understanding what children need to grow in the best possible way. I still often reflect on how lucky I was to have had these experiences and met such amazing people!

What key things did you do, or what attitudes or approaches did you have, that contributed to your success?

My attitude has always been that everything is possible. My high school principal drilled into his students that it is "not your aptitude but your attitude that determines your altitude in life". I live this out to the fullest. Where there is a will there is a way and I know that it is this tenaciousness that has allowed me to live out my dreams - professional and otherwise.

What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?

Keep a wide open mind! You never know who you might cross paths with and how this will become significant down the road. Seek out relationships, build bridges, and make connections. Education from books is one thing but an education from marinating in the relationships and company of renowned researchers and colleagues is life-changing.

Did you have any breaks in your education?

I did have one very notable break in that my first child was born 1.5 years into my PhD. I was able to continue with my studies from a distance and reworked my course planning around spending some more time with my new baby while he was very young. Although it was a lot of work it all came together beautifully and I think probably could not have been more perfect in the time it gave me to be both a mother and a student.


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