Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
It probably sounds cliché, but I have always loved the pursuit of knowledge. I did not feel even close to being done this pursuit when I completed my Master's degree and knew immediately that I would be applying to do my Ph.D. It is invigorating to be immersed in a community where learning is a shared goal and passion. I am excited to find my place in academia through engaging in research and educational opportunities that have the potential to make a difference in the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities, their families, and the larger community. I am passionate about sharing what I learn and empowering others. I hope that the experiences I gain through my graduate studies help me to build the necessary skills to contribute effectively and meaningfully in these ways. Also, to be honest, it will be pretty cool to be known as “Dr. Brain”.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
The University of British Columbia was a clear choice for me when I decided to continue my education. I was born and raised in Vancouver, BC. completing my B.A. in Applied Behaviour Analysis at Capilano University and my M.A. in Special Education - Autism and Developmental Disabilities at UBC. We are extremely lucky in B.C. to have such high caliber post-secondary institutions. I was drawn specifically to UBC because of the reputation of the Faculty members in Special Education. It was an opportunity to study with Professors who had authored studies and projects that had guided my clinical work. Studying at UBC has allowed me to maintain professional and family connections locally. While engaging in study and research, I have also continued my clinical work as a Behaviour Analyst working in school and community settings while raising two incredible young children. I am grateful that I have been able to find some work-life-study balance during this period of my life.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
During my Master's degree at UBC, I was provided with valuable and individualized research opportunities that helped me to reach my personal and professional goals. I was encouraged to pursue a project that I had a true passion to investigate and was given both the support and space to complete a Master's thesis that I am proud of. I knew that I wanted to continue that work by completing my Ph.D. in Special Education at UBC. This decision was further cemented after assisting Dr. Vicki Knight on a research project post-graduation. Her dedication to bringing curriculum (e.g., coding and robots!) and social opportunity to all students has been inspiring and I am extremely lucky to have her as my Doctoral Supervisor. My program allows me to pursue opportunities that will equip me for a future in both clinical work and academia.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
The best surprise about studying at UBC has been the genuine connections with people and how these connections have taken my life in new directions. Small class sizes and cohorts allow students to truly know one another as well as the Professors. I miss these connections with classes being online during the pandemic. However, I have been truly grateful and touched by the compassion, flexibility and support shown by Faculty during this time. Despite being off-campus I have felt the support of the UBC community.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
I had many years of clinical experience prior to starting my graduate programs. Having this experience allowed me to be fully immersed in what I was learning as I applied each new concept to a real student, classroom or family. I was excited to bring my growing knowledge to my clinical practice. I also think that parenting has made me an excellent multi-tasker which prepared me well for graduate student life!!!
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
I have two main bits of advice. The first is that it is important to have a big-picture idea of what you are wanting to achieve by pursuing your graduate degree. These big picture goals should guide your decisions around course selection, saying yes or no to opportunities for research and practical experiences. Secondly, make sure that your research topic is one that makes your heart beat a little faster when you talk about it.