Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
Taking the time to do my PhD means that I have protected time to develop skills and be mentored by experts that I otherwise wouldn't have an opportunity to be mentored by. A PhD isn't just learning about one topic in as much depth as possible. It's about learning to think about problems differently. You don't just learn how to find answers, you learn to ask the right questions. To me, that skill is invaluable.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
I grew up in the interior of BC, so I suppose I've been spoiled to live in BC most of my life. When I began thinking about a PhD, the fact that UBC is a world-class institution in medicine and health sciences made it an easy choice. I was also working with one of my two fantastic supervisors prior to entering the program, so I was excited to continue to be mentored by Dr. Gillian Hanley and now also Dr. Michael Law.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
I was attracted to studying at the School of Population and Public Health because of the school's emphasis on quantitative methods in health research. I was interested in growing my skills in working in observational research in population-based data sets. I was also excited to study with classmates from diverse backgrounds. I like population and public health because we often work on these complex and real-world problems. I'm a pragmatic and slightly impatient person, so I like to see the impacts of my work. In public health, you're often working on problems that needed to be solved "yesterday." So this type of work seemed like a fit for my personality and strengths.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
My favourite surprise about living in Vancouver is being able to surf year-round just a few hours away in Tofino (if you're willing to brave the cold). I'll admit, though that I've only gone as early as April.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?
Applied health research fields like population and public health work in the intersection of many disciplines. I am very interested in how technologies are changing the world and particularly healthcare. While I don't see technology through rose-coloured glasses by any means, I do think that it's powerful and can be leveraged to make a positive impact. Change is also happening at a break-neck pace, so working in technology and health care will never be boring!
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
My undergraduate and master's degrees are in nursing, and I also practiced in several different areas, including cardiac surgery and rural pediatric homecare. I would say the experience of working directly with patients helps me to stay motivated because I never lose sight of who I'm doing the research for.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
Time in nature recharges me. So whether it's hiking, biking, skiing, or spending time at one of Vancouver's beautiful beaches, you can count me in.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Take every opportunity you can. Grad school is a great time of exploration, and it's also this unique time when you have the "student hat" on, so people will sometimes give you more leeway than work environments. All that to say, don't be afraid to try different research areas or learn new skills. This is the time to try new things and challenge yourself.