Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
I really did believe that my JD would be my final degree. But once I made Canada my permanent home and took the opportunity to teach a few law courses at the University of Ottawa, I saw the wisdom in rounding out my training and deepening my familiarity with this country's legal systems and scholarship. Better still, after designing and teaching a Law and Neuroscience seminar, I realized that a perfect dissertation idea had begun to germinate amidst that experience. Ultimately, I want my teaching and my research to bear the kind of credential that maximizes their power to do good.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
I already knew firsthand what living and studying at UBC would be like, thanks to my experience as a Master's student in the Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program and a resident at Green College between 2010 and 2012. Between the university's institutional strengths and my abiding love for Vancouver, it was both the most sensible choice *and* the most exciting one — those so rarely coincide!
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
Allard's stellar faculty and lovely physical environs were certainly key factors, but the biggest draw that any program could have had for me was the presence of a specifically well-suited graduate supervisor. I only applied to programs where I felt sure there was someone with the right expertise to guide and strengthen my work. This helped narrow down my choices, but it also made the final decision terribly bittersweet, since I had to decline some fantastic opportunities.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
I didn't think there would be any surprises returning here after a seven-year absence, but it's even better than before! What was already a gorgeous and livable campus has really come into its own. It's even easier to rely on the city's public transit and forgo a car these days. And the food around town somehow keeps getting even better.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
Even my modest assortment of professional experiences (law school clinic and internships, year as a judicial clerk, researching and teaching as a visiting professor) has made an enormous difference in my ability to handle the demands of graduate work. Funny enough, the skill I've most honed and frequently rely on would have to be... writing effective emails. Careful wording and thoughtful self-presentation will get you places.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Take all advice with a grain of salt. While there are things we feel we can all relate to as graduate students, the truth is that there's such an incredible level of variability both across and even within programs that only you can figure out what's best for you. Everyone's got valuable perspective, but you've got to filter it through the unique lens of your own circumstances. Balance curiosity and openness with careful, critical thought and find your way from there.