Veronica Letawsky

Exploring salivary changes and effects on swallow physiology and perception in chronic autoimmune disease.
Stacey Skoretz

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

In pursuing a doctoral degree, my aim is to further explore and expand the clinical applications research I conducted within my master’s program. In doing so, I will be expanding my understanding of research methodology and evidence-based practice. This will not only enhance my clinical skills as a speech-language pathologist, but also training as a clinician scientist.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

Not only is it situated in one of the most beautiful areas in Canada, UBC is a global research centre with state of the art infrastructure and unparalleled expertise. As a result, I consider it to be an ideal institution through which to engage in doctoral research and professional development.

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

Dr. Skoretz (Director of the Swallowing Innovations Lab) engages in primary clinical applications research focused on upper aerodigestive tract physiology and has one of only a few labs worldwide focused on improving health outcomes for those with dysphagia following critical illness. Her work is grounded in knowledge synthesis and she actively engages knowledge users throughout the research process. This synergistic approach not only aligns with my academic and career goals, but also provides the opportunity to engage in priority-driven research initiatives in medical speech-language pathology.

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

Vancouver is a foodie’s dream!

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

I am grateful to have the opportunity to foster established and novel collaborative relationships. I look forward to mentoring other student researchers and continuing to learn alongside others.

What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?

Akin to the oft-elusive work-life balance, balancing clinical practice (as a speech-language pathologist) while also remaining involved in research may be challenging.

How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?

Within my program, I have the opportunity to engage in clinical practice while conducting research. This will allow me to uphold my clinical and research objectives while a student, and provide protected time to pilot my clinical-research balance (on a smaller scale). I am also looking forward to upcoming national and international training opportunities and conferences to expand my network and enhance interdisciplinary and international collaborations.

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

In completing thesis research as an adjunct to an intensive clinical master’s degree, it was necessary to juggle both clinical and research objectives. It gave me an opportunity to start maintaining a life balance necessary for doctoral studies and beyond. What is more, my thesis allowed me to lay the groundwork for my current doctoral research, while also beginning to establish a rich interprofessional network.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I regularly practice Modo yoga and have been exploring (and relishing!) bouldering. When time allows, I also enjoy (non-academic) reading and sporadic cycling, hiking, camping, and paddling (of sorts).

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Reach out to your previous mentors as well as your academic peers for guidance and support. You never know where or how a useful resource or opportunity for collaboration may come to be; sometimes the most valuable connections are also the most serendipitous.