Gaylean Davies

 
Women, Water + Empowerment: Investigating connections and disconnections in small water enterprises in Ghana
 
The interdisciplinary nature of IRES is, for me, one of its most attractive qualities. IRES encourages problem-focused study with a focus on applicability to real-world issues.
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I decided to enter a PhD program for reasons both practical and passionate. My previous academic work has had gender and female empowerment woven throughout, although housed within the disciplines of psychology and sociology. Underlying many of the relationships and paths to what we might call empowerment are access to the basic fundamentals of life. Having worked on and studied a girls' empowerment program in my bachelor's degree, to studying the effects of gender norms on girls' access to education in my master's, led me to consider gender and the world of water in my doctorate. My passion for the betterment of the female experience met a practical desire to gain important critical thinking and analytical skills through the interdisciplinary program offered by IRES at UBC.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I completed my bachelor's degree at UBC in 2014 before taking a number of years off prior to entering McGill for my master's. I returned to UBC because my supervisor here studies the precise intersection of gender and water in which I am interested, and because Vancouver has become home over the 10+ years I've lived here.

What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?

The interdisciplinary nature of IRES is, for me, one of its most attractive qualities. IRES encourages problem-focused study with a focus on applicability to real-world issues. It merges both the social and natural sciences and allowed me to study the hydrosocial rather than the hydrological cycle. Both of my previous degrees were disciplinary in nature, and the freedom of perspective offered by IRES was one of the main features to which I was initially attracted.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

I have lived here for over 10 years, so there is not much surprising at this point. However, having lived away for a year, I gained a new appreciation for Vancouver's incredibly accessible outdoor world.

What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

I worked for a long time in between high school and starting university, and again in between my bachelor's and master's degrees. Working in a professional environment trained me (in many things) but, importantly for graduate school, time management, and setting a schedule!

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I love biking in Vancouver and am just returning to ocean water rowing!

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

I think most people who apply to and end up in graduate school are over-achievers. My advice would be to release the idea of perfection if it is something to which you have traditionally been attached. Everyone sounds like they know exactly what they are studying and exactly how they are going to execute their project, but they have more likely just perfected their "elevator pitch" in the beginning. There is a lot of imposter syndrome in graduate school. We are all really just ducks, I think—it looks smooth on top, but we are furiously paddling underneath to figure out what we are going to do, and more importantly, how we are going to do it.

 
 
 

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