Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
My career aspiration is to become a counseling psychologist; in order to achieve this goal, graduate school is required. However, I choose to pursue a research degree rather than a course-based degree because of the volunteer work that I did as a mental health peer supporter at UBC during my undergraduate degree. In this role, I was always curious about how and why these programs were so helpful for students in distress. I wanted to understand how helpers (i.e., peer supporters, counselors, crisis intervention workers) facilitated change in those struggling with mental health concerns- specifically those with suicide ideation. After some consideration, I decided that pursuing a graduate degree that would allow me to conduct research in this area was the best way to feed my curiosity while providing a path to achieve my counseling goals.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
UBC has been like a home to me since I moved here to complete my undergraduate degree in 2014. Aside from the stunning campus and living in Vancouver in general, the Counselling Psychology program at UBC is one of the best in the country and I was certain it would set me up for success as a researcher and as a clinician.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
The Master of Arts stream in the Counselling Psychology program was attractive because it was able to offer me an opportunity to receive both an intensive research education as well as immersive clinical training in the field of Counselling Psychology. As someone interested in pursuing a PhD, a large part of what drew me to this program was the revered team of faculty members and their research interests and projects. Specifically, my research supervisors’ interests greatly aligned with mine and I was excited to work with, and learn from, him.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
As someone who grew up in Alberta, the best surprise for me about UBC was that no matter where you are on campus, you are never far from the ocean! Taking a walk to the beach is my go-to when I need to ground myself or de-stress.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?
I'm really looking forward to starting clinical work in the fall. This is will the first opportunity to practice my counseling skills with real clients, which is nerve-wracking but also exciting. Clinic is an eight-month skills course where second-year counseling psychology students are put into small groups and, under the supervision of an experienced psychologist, offer free-of-charge counseling services to individuals.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
The cooperative education program that I participated in during my undergraduate degree at UBC was one of the most helpful experiences that prepared me for graduate school. During my co-op placements, I had opportunities to coordinate clinical research studies, present original research findings at international conferences, explore my own research interests, and be mentored by esteemed researchers.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
To relax, I love going down to Spanish Banks or Kits Beach and taking my paddleboard out for a sunset paddle.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
First, prioritize your mental health. Things can get busy and stressful as a graduate student but making time to take care of yourself can go a long way in helping you succeed in grad school. Also, make an effort to create a community for yourself. There are so many ways to get immersed in the graduate community at UBC. For me, creating a social support system with grad students in my program has been vital for my mental health and academic success: it’s helpful to have others who can navigate the challenges, and celebrate the successes, of grad school with you.