Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
I completed my undergraduate degree in Human Ecology at the College of the Atlantic (COA). At College of the Atlantic (COA), through my senior thesis and classes, I was enthused by marine science and policy. My thesis focused on comparing the dolphin watching industry in Mauritius and Florida by researching the perspectives of various stakeholders (NGO’s, researchers, operators, and tourists), consequently sparking my interest in the interplay of marine science with the roles of stakeholders, ocean policy, and ecotourism. Ideally, I would have liked to implement my research via legislation, but it was beyond the scope of my undergraduate thesis. Being in the early stages of my policy education, I decided to focus my time on the current issue of climate change. I opted to work on a Reef Restoration Project (RRP) in Seychelles. While snorkelling in the bay, the degradation of the reef due to climate change became apparent. I then participated in hands-on research to help to reverse the effects of climate change. But now I want to be part of the next generation who can advance marine science through effective management and policy. A graduate degree allows me to work towards being at the forefront of making management decisions and evaluating current policies. I aim to be the driver of change in Mauritius and help the vulnerable coastal communities affected by environmental issues. Coastal regions are at high risk on this island, and as a Mauritian, I want to be a leader who can bring in expertise and help improve the current situation.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
Since I can remember, I have been fascinated with the marine environment and all of the organisms on my island, Mauritius, and specifically the world of marine mammals. Over the years, my obsession with Orcas shifted to the complex relationships between humans and the ocean. These existing complex relationships kindled my desire to engage in marine policy. Specifically, learning to bridge the gap between actionable science and practical policies. The urge to delve more into this domain led me to Dr Amanda Vincent (my supervisor) and her holistic approach to marine conservation.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
I am currently in the Oceans and Fisheries program. The year I started my program was the first incoming class for the program. The Institute of Ocean and Fisheries holds an impressive reputation and a high caliber of faculty. Being part of such a renowned program has grown my professional network but also given me the chance to engage in areas of research that are not my own. My favourite is the weekly seminars, where we have the opportunity to learn about the research conducted by phenomenal researchers around the world – it truly is fantastic!
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
Before coming to Vancouver, I had only visited Canada once when I was a child. Vancouver was a new location, and based on the pictures I had seen, it looked like a place of adventure. Life in Vancouver allows you to enjoy everything in one place – the ocean, the city, and the mountains.
What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?
I am half Mauritian and half Indian. I have lived in Mauritius for nine years, India for nine years, USA for five years, Seychelles for a year, and so on. I think my biggest challenge is where do I go. I feel sometimes the nitty-gritty of visa and citizenships are played down, but I worry about it – it truly does matter where you end up. But in terms of the professional aspect, my biggest challenge is feeling that I am good enough for a senior position – imposter syndrome and I are a little too close of friends. But like everyone, it’s a challenge I work on, and the more conversations I have with my supervisor, the less of a friend is imposter syndrome.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
The UBC program is competitive and can often deter students that have lower grades. But I say - do not look away. My supervisor chose me based on my passion, my previous field experience, and my skills. I think investing time in the above, made me a better candidate for UBC. But passion is innate, it’s what drives you, if you have it – you can go wherever you desire.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
I genuinely enjoy the hikes and the ocean walks in Vancouver. I love walking in the Pacific Spirit Park, mostly the trails close to Spanish Banks. Lately, I have started to learn to rock climb and have found a new passion. I am truly afraid of heights, but climbing the wall allows me to face my fears and clear my head – something that has been a light in days of trouble.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Graduate school is an amalgamate of emotions, knowledge, self-growth, and challenges. It has pushed me to learn in different ways and to challenge my notions of conservation. UBC also offers a range of resources that I have never had the chance to experience, so take advantage of it. The Research Commons is an excellent way to gain news skills via well-developed workshops. But also, you are in Vancouver, so take advantage of the immense beauty around you, the combination of the ocean and mountain, gives you a sense of serenity.