Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
Historically and persistently marginalized populations are oftentimes either over-researched in extractive ways, or under researched leading to erasure or misinformation about their experiences. I have worked as an occupational therapist with diverse populations and alongside my clients would witness the many systemic barriers and forms of oppression that impacted their access to engaging in their valued roles and occupations/activities. Pursuing a PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences is an opportunity to align my passion for advocacy with my intention to engage in community-based research that is co-created by, with and for the community. This research is an opportunity to expand the sphere of influence from individual client/family settings, to instead work toward dismantling the systems of power that impact 2SLGBTQ+ Indigenous peoples' engagement in their valued activities (e.g., working, caregiving, spending time on the land, beading, snow shoeing, visiting with kin, etc).
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
I completed a Master of Occupational Therapy degree (2017-2019) at UBC and had an immensely positive experience. Time and time again, UBC has shown up willing to listen, learn and change when called upon by students, faculty and the community. It is important to me that I study at an institution where we are valued as learners for the diverse set of skills, knowledge and lived experience we bring to the programs we study within. Education is not a unidirectional process, and at UBC I feel that is recognized.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
I was attracted to the Rehabilitation Sciences program for multiple reasons. Firstly, the program has faculty and research programs that are clinically focused or otherwise aimed at contributing to knowledge gaps that impact lived realities of various populations. My supervisor, Dr. Huot, among other faculty in the RHSc program also teach in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, so I was exposed to their research and teaching early on in my masters degree. It is important to feel supported and inspired by our environment as learners, and I am fortunate to experience both. The program feels like a natural fit for me as a clinician-researcher, and I was attracted to not having to choose which passion or side of myself to honor, but rather how I could align who I am with the work I hope to do.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
I have relocated to Vancouver from my hometown multiple times in the past few years, and each time I am surprised by the diverse activities, people and experiences that the city has to offer. Before moving back to Vancouver Island, I would spend a lot of time walking around Kitsilano, venturing to North Vancouver to go hiking, and even spent a year living in Maple Ridge which involved countless hours of mountain biking. There really is something for everyone.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?
I really enjoy the Rehabilitation Sciences community, inclusive of my fellow students, the faculty, and the staff members who make the program such an inviting and learning-focused experience. I am endlessly curious, so I find being surrounded by people who are passionate about their area of research to be inspiring, not to mention the fascinating conversations we can have with each other!
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
It is going to sound cliché, but where I am today (second to the privileges I have been afforded) is a result of the most challenging periods of my life and reliance on my intuition, or that gut feeling we get, to guide me through it. As someone who identifies within the community I am now co-creating research with, I feel that my clinical and lived experience have come together to set me up well. As an occupational therapist, I worked with clients and families to co-create solutions that worked for them, in their specific context. This carries over to the research I am now doing, because the community members have unique intersectional experiences and it is through a trusting relationship that we can explore what these experiences are in the context of their life. I also will mention that it wouldn't have been possible to feel prepared or capable of doing this if I didn't have the support and unconditional love of my family. Being prepared isn't all about skills or knowledge - sometimes it is about feeling seen for who you are, where you are.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
I spend a lot of time outside, so when I have free time I am usually in the woods, by the ocean, riding my bike down a mountain, hiking to a lakeside campsite or going for dips in lakes and oceans year round. Relaxation is something I am still learning more about, as many of us are because of the intense productivity-focused messaging we are bombarded with that we internalize. I am learning that I enjoy doing puzzles, journaling, writing poetry, checking out new restaurants and watching sunsets.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
I would say spend time reflecting on your needs and boundaries before starting your program, or even at any point along the way. The more in touch you are with your interests, ways of learning, communication style, intellectual needs, work style (e.g., solo, shared space set up, frequent feedback, self-directedness) the more intentional you can be with how you structure your experience. There is no shame in asking for the support you need both within your program and from outside of it. I would also say that although your studies will occupy a lot of your time and energy, having clear boundaries can help maintain a healthy relationship with your work and allow you to step away from it at times. I prioritize spending time with my family, exercising daily, eating in ways that nourishes my body and brain, sleeping enough and doing fun things with my friends. A graduate degree is a marathon, and the process should be enjoyable though there will be ups and downs. Maybe it is more of a marathon - roller-coaster style!