Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
I began my graduate studies as I intend on pursuing a career as a professor of teaching. I enjoy instructing students in the fields of general and organic chemistry, and the completion of my PhD is necessary to turn this passion into a career. I am using my time in graduate school to become more familiar with the content of these fields so that I may be a better educator for my future classes.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
I decided to pursue my graduate studies at UBC as I wanted to remain on the west coast after my undergraduate degree. Having spent the past several years on Vancouver Island, I was excited to explore more of British Columbia. I was also interested in experiencing the "big city" life and looked forward to living in Vancouver.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
It was my supervisor who attracted me most to my program. From our first meeting, Glenn expressed his interest in supporting my career aspirations and has since supported my teaching pursuits beyond the standard teaching assistant assignments. His research was a major draw for me as well, as I thought it would be a good fit for expanding my background in synthetic organic chemistry.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
My favourite "surprise" since moving to Vancouver has got to be the number of things to do and explore in and around the city. There is always some new activity to try, food to eat, or a place to head off to. I have really enjoyed my time in Vancouver so far, and am looking forward to spending more time in the coming years seeing what there is to do in the Lower Mainland!
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?
I love teaching, and I have enjoyed many of the teaching opportunities graduate school has offered me, particularly in tutoring and volunteering in my supervisor's undergraduate organic chemistry lecture. Teaching gives me a nice break from my research work and has helped me to keep a more realistic perspective of all of the tasks that I juggle here at UBC.
What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?
I think one of my biggest challenges as an instructor will be constantly trying to come up with new and more effective ways of conveying material to my students. What will work one year may not work the next, and I am looking forward to overcoming that obstacle when it arrives and helping my students to reach their full potential.
How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?
I think my program is able to offer me teaching assistant placements that give me a good perspective on which methods of instruction are effective, and which ones need attention and updating.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
My time as an undergraduate at the University of Victoria culminated in me working as a teaching assistant in my fourth year in the first and second-year labs. The experiences I had teaching my students as I finished my undergraduate studies showed me just how much I enjoyed instructing students in their course and lab work. Combined with my honour's thesis work, my fourth year set me up well for the balancing act of teaching and research in graduate school.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
I like to spend my free time tutoring, reading books, getting outdoors with my friends, and cooking and baking (sometimes to mixed results). I also enjoy singing, although I am not so sure my neighbours enjoy that nearly as much as I do!
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Graduate school is not easy and can be hard on one's mental health. The impostor syndrome has been a major hurdle for me, and I often have to remind myself that I have not just "stumbled" my way into my PhD studies. For anyone that it may benefit, your mental health is something to prioritize, and it is worth it to seek out the support available to you. Your time in graduate school is your time to dig deeper and learn more about your field, to explore the aspects of your work that interest you, and to gain the tools and skills necessary to pursue a career you are passionate about! Do not let this time go to waste by being your own worst critic and constantly second-guessing yourself.