Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
I'd been working as a teacher internationally in Australia for two years after my undergraduate degrees when I realised I was most passionate about supporting student mental health and well-being in schools. It was this passion that led me to the School and Applied Child Psychology program here at UBC. This program was an opportunity to challenge myself professionally and expand my skills in working with children and adolescents. I've also been able to connect with other educators, students, and researchers who share my passions and interests in improving mental health and well-being outcomes for Canadian children and adolescents.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
UBC is world renowned for its excellence in research and student diversity and this high standard drew me to the university. It is also known for it's thriving community and student-centered learning opportunities. It is an institution that prides itself on innovation, creativity and flexibility. I have also been impressed with the leadership of the faculty and administration in providing direction and guidance to the faculties and departments, especially during challenging times. I've also wanted to live in Vancouver since vising the city in 2016 for a close friend's wedding. I fell in love with the city and lifestyle, as well as the beautiful UBC campus. There are so many reasons to be at this school, and I'm so thankful to have the opportunity to work, live and study here.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
My program offers specialised training and accreditation, as well as a direct track from Master's study to the PhD which is important for students like myself wishing to eventually pursue certification as a registered psychologist in Canada. I was also drawn to School and Applied Child Psychology because the faculty are engaged in research and committed to evidence-based practices and interventions that place students and their families at the center of our services. The supervision model used in this program also allowed me to have mentorship from students in upper years in community practicum sites, which has improved my clinical practise and broadened experiences working in schools. My supervisor, Dr. Anusha Kassan has also supported my research interests in the areas of of school integration, multicultural counselling, and social justice, as well as supporting diverse student voices and decolonizing the field of psychology. Overall, this program has challenged my way of thinking, improved my understanding and practise of school psychology and my sparked my passion for working towards more inclusive, diverse, and representative spaces
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
My experience so far has led me to a strong and supportive community of peers and professors in my faculty and program. Although I knew the UBC community was strong, I was especially impressed with their unwavering support, kindness and flexibility during this time. I have been met with support and guidance from students in the upper years of my program and my supervisor and professors in the Faculty of Education. They are the people that have made UBC feel like a warm, welcoming community during challenging and isolating times.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
I grew up in Ontario and completed my undergraduate degrees at Queen’s University, in Kingston, Ontario. My Bachelor of Arts Honours focused on Global Development Studies and History, and I went on to graduate in 2018 with my Bachelor of Education with a focus on International Education. My interest in clinical work was sparked by my involvement with the Promoting Relationships & Eliminating Violence Network (PREVNet) during my time at Queen’s where I saw the power of mobilised research and school based interventions to address bullying and victimisation. Since graduating I have been a secondary school teacher in Melbourne, Australia. Exposure to international education systems and my passion for social justice led me to UBC and to my current graduate studies.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
My advice for new graduate students is simple: enjoy every moment of your experience. To me, this means prioritizing your health and well-being, asking for supports, meeting as many new people as you can, trying new things and taking every opportunity that is available to you. Cultivate your passions and hobbies outside of your academic work and engage with the community, because these experiences inform your unique voice and will make you a better researcher and student. Focus on your passions and remember that pacing yourself, staying organised and using all of the resources available to you is so important. Finally, it's an old adage but I've found it to be invaluable: work smarter, not harder. This means working as a team with your peers and classmates, being efficient, and instead of saying yes to everything, focus on doing a few things well and activities that support your interests and passions.