Kiarah O'Kane

 
Sexuality myths and sexual outcomes
Faculty of Arts
Surrey
Canada
 
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

After completing my undergraduate degree, I started volunteering in a lab studying sexuality--which is now the lab I am part of for my graduate studies! During my time as a volunteer research assistant in the lab, being exposed to the world of sex research felt like entering an absolutely inspiring sea of possibilities. It was clear to me right away that studying sexuality was something I wanted to do for the rest of my career, and that I had endless research questions about. Pursuing a graduate studies was the perfect next step for me to take to start answering those questions!

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

Firstly, I completed my undergraduate degree at UBC, and it has always felt like home to me. It was hard to imagine myself feeling so at home at any other institution. Secondly, my research supervisors Dr. Samantha Dawson and Dr. Katrina Bouchard are two amazing and inspiring scientists. I knew that my research interests were the exact intersection between both of their research programs. Lastly, I was excited to have the opportunity to receive rigorous clinical training within the Clinical Psychology program.

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

My program's focus on developing both rigorous research and clinical skills was very appealing to me. On the one hand, possessing strong clinical skills is so valuable when undertaking research studying sensitive topics related to sexuality with populations experiencing psychological distress. On the other hand, rigorous scientific training allows for thinking critically and following best practices when providing clinical services.

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

Since I have been part of the UBC community for a long time, I did not expect many surprises when I started my program! However, I was surprised to find out how different the graduate experience at UBC can be from the undergraduate experience. I have been so thrilled at how graduate studies really allow for in-depth exploration of topics through discussions, research, and collaborations.

I have been so thrilled at how graduate studies at UBC really allow for in-depth exploration of topics through discussions, research, and collaborations. I really love collaborating with my peers and with faculty members. It is amazing how fantastic research ideas can be created out of casual conversations with other like-minded people.
 
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?

I really love collaborating with my peers and with faculty members. It is amazing how fantastic research ideas can be created out of casual conversations with other like-minded people. It is really exciting to think of what ideas could be to come!

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

Sexuality is a topic that many people are afraid to talk about. This means that sometimes there can be some hesitation in the public to engage with sex research in meaningful ways. I hope to help disseminate knowledge about sexuality throughout my career and overcome this barrier!

How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?

Clinical training is preparing me to navigate discussing sensitive topics with care and understanding. This training equips me to approach the challenges that can come with doing sex research with confidence!

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

Taking time off before grad school was incredibly important in my preparation to begin grad school. Taking time after undergrad to really think through my goals and research interests was key in helping me determine what path I wanted to take in grad school. Additionally, time off allowed me to develop my other hobbies and interests that have kept me grounded during grad school. I strongly recommend people take time off before graduate studies if they are able to!

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I like to play with my very energetic kitten and to immerse myself in the live music scene in Canada!

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Follow the path that you are passionate about! Believing in your research and being curious about the topics you are studying is so important for figuring out what you want from your graduate experience.

 
 
 

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