Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
In my final year as an undergraduate, I decided to pursue an honour's degree in Sociology, which comprised of a research-based thesis. Doing this gave me the chance to recognize how satisfying and important it is to apply research training to substantive real-world issues. That, and the support and encouragement of a fantastic supervisor, led me to pursue my graduate studies.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
I grew up in Vancouver, and as many people who live here can probably appreciate, it is a beautiful city both scenically and culturally. Aside from the city itself, the support and opportunities that my supervisors in both my MA and PhD have offered me made the decision to attend UBC an easy one. Graduate programs are long, and at times daunting. Strong mentorship and support can make all the difference in one’s overall success (and enjoyment!) of a graduate program.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
The Sociology department at UBC has respected scholars in my areas of interest, namely gender, work, and organizations. Not only has this mentorship strengthened my own research, but being in the right department with scholars who are respected in their field has opened up a wealth of opportunities to me. I think that finding the right fit between your research interests and faculty at your incoming department, are key to conducting strong research and broadening the opportunities available to you in the field.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
UBC's main campus is located in Point Grey, which is a beautiful area of Vancouver, but definitely venturing off campus gives a huge range of options. From amazing food, and vibrant and diverse communities, to remote wilderness just an hour outside of the city: I feel incredibly lucky to live here.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?
This maybe sounds obvious, but I didn't realize just how much I would love the research itself. I love interviewing participants and I equally love analyzing quantitative data. I guess at the root of this is curiosity - being open and interested in what I'm doing, and feeling extremely grateful that I have the opportunity to pursue my interests in this way.
What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?
Maybe the biggest challenge in my future career path is knowing which path to choose. Academia is exciting and fulfilling, and it is the most straightforward (seeming) path to take. However, I love applying my research and working with organizations, and would love to do that outside of academia as well.
How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?
I am fortunate to have a department that offers workshops and forums to help navigate the path forward in pursuing a career in academia. For career advice outside of academia, UBC has many resources to help inform graduate students, including the Graduate Pathways to Success program, the Centre for Student Involvement and Careers, and the Graduate Management Consulting Association.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
I never imagined I would find myself at University, much less pursuing a Ph.D. I dropped out of school when I was 16, and spent many years working at minimum-wage jobs before finally going back to school. Because it was never a straight path for me to go to University, this has offered me the perspective of how research and academia can seem distant and unrelated to life outside of the University when you're not embedded within it. I think that because of this, I strive to find ways to make my research relevant to outside audiences, and I try to grapple with issues that substantively affect people's everyday lives. I have a passion for finding ways to bridge the gap between academic knowledge and substantive contributions outside the academic community, and this is something I see many others at UBC striving for as well.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
I love to be outside, so I try and spend as much time as I can in nature. I also love baking, cooking, and finding ways to be involved and connected to my community. After a long hiatus after feeling burnt out from reading for school, I have also finally started reading for pleasure again!
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
To recognize that pursuing a graduate degree is difficult, but often in ways that aren't fully understood until you're going through it. I have found the research itself to be the most enjoyable and least stressful part of my time at graduate school. A graduate degree requires a great deal of perseverance and self-discipline, and I've found this also requires a whole lot of cheesy self-talk and kindness to yourself when you have crises of confidence. It's my experience and that of many of my fellow graduate students that we are incredibly critical of our work and are hard on ourselves - that has likely been a driving force that has led us down this path. I think many perceive this as a "strength", but it is kryptonite when you're working on a largely self-propelled dissertation. Research and writing often require us to work alone, which means we are alone with our self-doubts. Conversely, in our departments and at conferences we are surrounded by people who seem smarter, better, more accomplished, and seem to work more hours than us. When you couple this with self-criticism, it can be pretty paralyzing. So my advice is this: work hard, but be very kind to yourself and if you can, be open with others about your insecurities. I can almost guarantee they feel the same way.