Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
The field of cancer research only became known to me after Third Year when I began a Co-operative Education Program working in research labs. I was captivated by the ability to explore scientific questions with the goal of having a real-world impact on the understanding of cancer and the development of treatments. It was only at the end of placements in industry and academic cancer research labs that I realized what I wanted to do for a career. Before this time, I was leisurely taking classes in marine biology and quickly changed gears in my last year of undergraduate studies to focus on cell biology courses with the intention to continue my education in graduate school. I decided to pursue a doctorate degree because it would allow me the opportunity to move further and higher in a cancer research career, and make a significant contribution to the scientific community. I also greatly appreciate the critical thinking skills I have picked up so far!
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
I moved around as a child and grew to love living in Metro Vancouver the most. When it came time to choosing a school for my undergraduate degree, I realized how important it was for me to stay in BC so I could be close to the ocean, the mountains and of course, my family. UBC was my top choice as one of the best universities in Canada and its reputation for placing a strong emphasis on research. I absolutely loved my undergraduate experience due to the meaningful connections I made, the lessons I learned inside out outside the lecture hall, and the personal growth I experienced through the extra-curricular opportunities offered by UBC. There was no question that I wanted to continue my education here. After 8 years and counting, I am still glad to be a part of the UBC community. I feel especially privileged to learn from outstanding scientists who are leaders in their fields.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
When I decided to go into research, I was committed to studying cancer. Many cancers share overlapping topics, and it is important to consider the many factors that play a role in any certain type of cancer. I find that providing a wide scope on understanding disease mechanisms is a strength of the Interdisciplinary Oncology Program (IOP). I was attracted to IOP’s diverse, collaborative and innovative nature that allows flexibility in tailoring my educational experience to suit my own goals.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
Although it was not a surprise to me as a local student, it never ceases to amaze me how even the most stressful days can be relieved by the west coast approach to life: take a deep breath of fresh air, enjoy the view and spend quality time with peers from a tight-knit community.
What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?
I am fortunate to be surrounded by role models who are women in STEM and who have broken barriers for other women joining STEM fields. I hope to be able to follow in their footsteps and overcome challenges related to achieving a successful career and maintaining a balanced life.Experiences during my undergraduate degree at UBC have made me a really social person. I learned important soft skills such as active listening and showing empathy. These skills have helped me develop great working relationships with my colleagues and facilitate collaborations on projects.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
Experiences during my undergraduate degree at UBC have made me a really social person. I learned important soft skills such as active listening and showing empathy. These skills have helped me develop great working relationships with my colleagues and facilitate collaborations on projects.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
I greatly enjoy taking advantage of the beautiful landscape British Columbia has to offer. I like hiking, canoeing, kayaking and the occasional ‘glamping’ trip. In addition, I enjoy playing chess despite my struggles in winning against my lab mates.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Make sure you are happy in your team and are excited to come to work every day. Working in a supportive environment with supervisors and peers you can lean on plays a huge role in achieving success. You get out what you put in, so put in the effort to foster the type of atmosphere in which you will thrive. Also leave room for life outside the lab! A healthy work-life balance will help you succeed.