Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
I was ready to start another chapter of my life story. After a decade of pursuing one path I had become comfortable and competent in my career so I wasn’t approaching it with that sense of nervous excitement which keeps me engaged. I wanted to change things up, go somewhere new and learn more about the world. I’m interested to see what doors will open up for me once I have another three letters after my name.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
I have lived in the Atlantic, Central and Prairie regions of Canada, and I wanted to add the Pacific region to that list. This is an amazing country and I enjoy exploring it. UBC is known for having a beautiful campus in an attractive city with plenty of green space and easy access to nature. I wanted to be able to explore Vancouver and become familiar with this place.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
The Master of Food Science program concludes with a 3.5 month food processing practicum which will provide practical experience and networking opportunities. I am comfortable working with food after it gets into the kitchen but I don’t have experience with the steps that it takes to get the ingredients there, so the combination of classroom and jobsite learning that this program offers will help me to feel confident in my ability to step into a new role after I graduate.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
I am surprised by how small Vancouver is compared to the impressive number of attractions that it holds. It is easy to explore the various neighbourhoods by foot. I was also pleased to find out how comfortable it is to travel by bicycle here. There are plenty of bicycle lanes and other pedal-powered commuters so you feel safe on the road. There is also an astonishing number of the number of sushi restaurants and coffee shops in Vancouver.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all classes are currently online. While I was initially disappointed about not being on campus, this has proven to be one of the more enjoyable aspects of being a student again since I can schedule my day in a way that works best for me. I am most productive in the mornings and evenings, when my classes happen to be scheduled, and I can take a break in afternoon when I start to become easily distracted. This also ties into the aspect of the program that I am most curious about, which is the practicum. I’m interested to see where I will be placed and what I will be doing, along with how COVID-19 will be affecting that experience.
What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?
I lack an understanding of how the food processing world works; the social norms, the lingo that’s used, the unspoken traditions, the expectations. I only have a few ideas of what potential jobs there are with an MFS degree. So the challenge will be finding a career where I feel like I have something to offer, I can quickly adapt to the social norms and I can carve out a niche space for myself.
How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?
The instructors of this program have extensive experience in the food processing sector and I am able to glean bits of information about the culture of this industry during every lecture. The practicum will certainly provide great insight into at least one example of a food processing enterprise and the other courses that I take will introduce me to more career options.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
Before coming to this program I was working as a culinary arts teacher, so I was became comfortable with being organized, breaking large projects into manageable steps, determining priorities, sticking to deadlines, and realizing that there is always more work that can be done so it is important to take breaks even if life feels overwhelming. We need to look after our own wellbeing.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
I feel most comfortable in the kitchen, so I relax by cooking or baking while listening to podcasts. It is even more fun if there are people around to give that food to, so I enjoyed hosting meals and cocktail-making events when there weren’t physical distancing protocols in place. I enjoy the creativity and problem solving that I am able to practice while woodworking or bouldering, as well as peacefulness of hiking and camping. When I want an easy distraction I will watch TV shows and movies, and play video games.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Plan your time in Vancouver as if you may only be here for the duration your graduate program. Take advantage of the opportunities to explore the area; experience the art galleries, museums, restaurants, food trucks, stores, parks, performances, tours and scenery of the city. Venture further away as well to the forests, lakes, towns and farms that surround Vancouver.