Jennica Nichols

 
Reimagining Research-Based Theatre: An Arts-Based Approach to Engaging Veterans, Families, and Service Providers in the Co-Design of an Intervention to Improve Veterans' Success in Higher Education
 

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

After my Masters, I have the privilege of working to develop or evaluate several health interventions. I really enjoyed the work. I realized I wanted to lead these projects in the future so I could create more opportunities for meaningful participatory of all stakeholders, especially those whose voices are too often missing in the design and evaluation stages. I realized all leaders had their Ph.D. or MD and so decided to return to school.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I chose UBC because of its unique interdisciplinary doctoral program and because of who I would have the opportunity to mentor under. The interdisciplinary program allowed me to pursue my interest in research-based theatre, measurement, and intervention co-design. My supervisors are experts in quality research and arts-based research, allowing me to truly become a mixed methods researcher.

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

The interdisciplinary program is like a "Choose your Own Adventure" program. You are mentored by professors in two faculties and work together to decide what courses to take, what your comprehensive exams look like, and what research you'll do. It also challenges me to think beyond my training in Population and Public Health to develop an interdisciplinary approach to my research.

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

How beautiful it is here. You are riding your bike and then get a glimpse of the mountains, which never fails to wow. There are so many trees and plants that flower in the spring, the sunsets are outstanding, and you are never too far away from the ocean. You can get out to the mountains really easily so a hike is never too far away. You can't help but feel thankful and privileged with all this nature around.

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

I am really looking forward to data collection--the actually doing part of the research. I cannot wait to work with stakeholders to make the plan a reality and seeing all the adaptations, challenges, and outputs that transpire.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I try to get out of the city and hike as much as possible. Other things I enjoy include biking, cooking, craft beer, and picnics.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

It is a marathon and not a sprint. As you are settling in and creating habits, make sure to include self-care in there or you will burn out. Take that time off to do things you love and get away from your computer so you can come back reenergized and are able to be productive.

 
 

Learn more about Jennica's research

Academic institutions across Canada face an urgent problem. The federal government has changed policy so, now, all veterans who served for at least six years are eligible for a $40,000 grant towards higher education. Since its launch in April 2018, over 1,000 people had applied for this new benefit. The University of British Columbia (UBC) will, as will all institutions across Canada, need to prepare unique support structures to support active military and veteran students to succeed within an academic context. The Centre for Group Counselling and Trauma (CGCT) has been tasked with creating a support hub to address this concern. In collaboration with CGCT and current veteran students, we will conduct an arts-based needs assessment and co-design workshops to support the development of this support hub. We will work with veterans, their families, and varies departments within UBC. Research-based theatre will be used to accessibly translate existing research as well as be the basis for both the needs assessment and co-design activities. I believe this will result in more meaningful and reciprocal participation for all stakeholders along with a more effective service hub.