Negotiating identity and belonging in the age of the "war on terror": Muslim youths’ lived experiences in British Columbian high schools

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

When I immigrated to Canada, my 14 years of previous teaching experience seemed to be meaningless. I had to recertify my teaching degree and out of frustration I decided to move on and get an MA, in Educational Administration, my success and the support of my advisors made me decide to go for a PhD degree. It is also an opportunity to show my kids how passion and hard work can overcome any hardships and frustration. 

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I first joined UBC for my MA and because I had a very good academic and personal experience in my department, EDST, I decided to get back here for my PhD I am proud of my affiliation to UBC. It is a great place. 

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

Great professors, who helped me see my strengths and pushed me to do my best, friendly and supportive environment and a great commitment to have a strong community.

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

I lived for so long in a dry and hot climate, so when I moved to Vancouver I was surprised and happy that it rains a lot here. I love the rain and I am enjoying the weather. I also enjoy Stanley Park and Jericho Beach.

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

I am enjoying my academic journey at UBC, but I am particularly looking forward to my field work. I am very curious and anxious about the time I will get into my research site and have contact with the participants.

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

I am an immigrant woman and most of my working experience was outside Canada, this is making me quite anxious about my future. I have lived in three different continents and feel the need to get some stability in my professional life, especially for my kids.

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

My education and work experience as a teacher in my country of origin (Tunisia) and my life and work in different countries taught me how to value education, be open and willing to learn. Being a mother of two children taught me patience and gave me a reason to never give up. My ambition taught me that only challenges can make me a better person.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

Watch movies with my kids, walk and go to the gym with my daughter.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Have a dream, work hard, get involved and believe that your difference is an asset. Self-confidence and resilience are key assets to achieve great success. Time management and multitasking are necessary skills for students who have family responsibilities and a hectic life style.