Brandon Hillier

Evaluating the increased reliance on central banks after the global financial crisis: The case of the Fed, ECB, and BoJ
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I decided to pursue graduate studies in the social sciences hoping that I would be surrounded by curiosity and care for understanding matters so often taken for granted. The university remains a privileged vantage point for observing the great ways of the world and for making sense of our own personal role within it. While one cannot possibly see everything from this ivory tower, I do sincerely believe that it fosters an environment and community allowing people to ask questions they would otherwise be unable or unwilling to ask.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I am continuing on into a PhD program but originally arrived here as a master's student. Reputation of the university aside, I elected to study at UBC for its strong links to Asia (i.e., the Centre for Japanese Research) and centrality in the field of geography. More personally, it was also an opportunity to spend some time in my home city - I am from Vancouver and had been living in Toronto for a few years.

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

The Department of Geography at UBC is world class, with an incredible community of scholars, students, and staff thinking together in a notoriously rascal discipline. It is additionally a leading centre for economic geography - it is a privilege to have scholars you have looked up to become involved so intimately in your work.

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

While I had become a bit of an adopted Torontonian, there is nowhere quite like Vancouver in terms of its raw beauty. I had forgotten how calming it is to be nestled between the ocean and mountains. UBC is a big school with lots of spirit, but it also has plenty of niches - especially for grad students. Big fan of Koerner's pub.

What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?

I am unironically looking forward to reading for my comprehensive examination. There are many gaps in my knowledge I hope to fill through my reading, though understand it will likely reveal rather than resolve unknowns. For similar reasons, I look forward to fieldwork abroad.

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

I take great pride in my history of diverse employment. I have worked as a cook, roofer, machine maintenance operator, landscaper, and executive search consultant, among other roles. It has given me an immense humility and appreciation for the privilege of being a junior scholar, but also a wide cut of experience which is applied in my research in ways that continually draw my surprise.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I am a serial hobbyist but admittedly a dilettante. I love to box, row, play chess, ride motorcycles, and write bad skits, among other things.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

You learn a lot from your professors but a lot more from your peers. Try to make an effort in engaging with your colleagues, drink and be merry, go on roadtrips, but also join student reading groups and review each other's work.


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