Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
I decided to pursue a graduate degree to continue the work of being the first in my family to break academic barriers and also extend the legacy of Black women with advanced degrees. I find that representation is so important for Black girls who look to aspire to achieve their dreams. As a Black woman it’s hard to achieve greatness often because of barriers like sexism, racism and misogynoir in the way of diminishing your work and value as a person and a student. For my family nobody has a graduate degree and my parents have always encouraged me to be the best that I can and do all that I can do to become Dr. Adeerya Johnson and support any degree program that I desired. Therefore, I find joy in school and want to learn as much as possible with the benefit of a graduate degree and extending the work of the Black women/femmes and Black feminist/womanist scholars that came before me.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
It’s funny to think back when I was applying, I thought I had no chance of getting into UBC because of its rigorous programs. I guess I didn’t believe I had what it takes to be at such a prestigious university all the way in British Columbia. However, I decided to study at UBC because I wanted to have the opportunity to study abroad and extended the borders of Blackness in a Canadian academic experience. I also thought the Vancouver campus was the most beautiful college campus I’ve ever seen and I felt that type of learning environment would help me focus and have a stress-free academic experience. Ultimately, UBC had a lot to offer me in regards to financial resources, low tuition for graduate students compared to the US, and rigorous programs.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
I find that I love how GRSJ allows students to sit at the table of various social justice issues and learn from renowned scholars world-wide. Also, the professors in the department have done a lot of great research and everyone has something different and insightful to teach to the students in the department.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
The best surprise about life in Vancouver is the summer weather. I come from Georgia and the heat is a SCORCHER and I hated being outside in the summer! And I was not sure what I was expecting for summertime in Vancouver, but the weather and temperature here is perfect. The sun is always shining beautifully and I always enjoy spending hours soaking up the Vancouver sun at the local beach at Spanish Banks or on campus.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?
Well, I mostly enjoy the class discussions. Breaking down the required readings with the professors and my peers to challenge my thoughts and expand my critical thinking skills are always fulfilling. I also am looking forward to teaching my own course after I reach candidacy status. Not sure what class but I love teaching and I know it would be so much fun to do.
What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?
I find that my biggest challenge will be battling imposter syndrome and navigating my work in both Black American and Black Canadian academic spaces. Centering my work on Black women and Black feminist ideologies and theories can be met with some resistance and tough critique and there are also so many great scholars that will be reading my work so I'm also anxious about how my work would fit in contemporary conversations of Black feminism and hip-hop feminism.
How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?
I believe that my program is preparing me for those challenges by strengthening my writing and critical thinking skills. I also believe that my department is helpful in providing resources and opportunities with events like conferences and community events to get comfortable with speaking on my own research to build confidence in my work.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
I think having the chance to travel internationally and explore other cultures and racial groups have prepared me to attend an international university like UBC. I also believe that my own efforts and work ethic as a Black feminist scholar has prepared me to understand many of the concepts and theories to engage and work with the professors and my peers in my department to think collectively about social justice issues.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
I love to listen to music. And I found that over the past few years I have built the skill of curating really good music playlists. So, listening to music and curating playlists for my mood and relaxation has been my "thing". Also, I'm building on my cooking skills which I find to be quite fun.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Grad school is not a race. Take your time and be kind to yourself as you matriculate through your program.