Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
I discovered the field of medical physics while doing my undergraduate degree in physics, and in order to become a medical physicist working in a cancer clinic you need a graduate degree. I was really drawn to this career when I first learned about it, so I knew I needed to pursue a graduate degree. I was accepted into the MSc program at UBC and really enjoyed my research topic, so I decided to transfer into the PhD program so I could spend more time on it.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
I was born and raised on Vancouver Island, and attended Queen's University in Kingston, ON for my undergraduate degree. After a few years of Ontario winters I was ready to move back to the west coast! UBC has a great reputation for graduate school programs and is in one of the most beautiful cities in Canada, so I was very excited to do my PhD here.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
I appreciated the flexibility to do a direct transfer into the PhD program after one year of my MSc. I also was very happy to have a medical physics research project that was very clinical and has had a direct impact on helping cancer patients.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
Vancouver is the perfect city. It's large enough that you have everything you want at your fingertips, but small enough that you still get a strong sense of community throughout the city. There's green space around almost every corner (particularly on UBC campus), which is great for your mental health. Also, there's tons of excellent restaurants from different cultures, so there's always new, delicious foods to try.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
I realized pretty quickly during my undergrad that you have to be self-motivated and responsible to be successful and stay on top of assignments, projects, and exams. In graduate school, there's significantly less deadlines and due dates to motivate you, so you have to be able to set deadlines for yourself to stay on track and keep progressing. I think being a self-motivated and organized person has allowed me to be successful in my PhD and continue to make progress year after year.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Take time to appreciate the soft skills you'll develop in graduate school. While you may go months without any major breakthrough or any significant data collection, you're always learning new things and improving yourself. Looking back, I'm shocked at the organization and communication skills I've developed in the last few years, and I think our personal growth during graduate school should be celebrated.