Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
I wanted to be surrounded by other writers, to both learn from and be inspired by them. It is of great benefit for me personally to have deadlines for the work, and to be able to really focus on projects individually, within the particular streams offered in CRWR. It is an environment that is simultaneously both supportive and artistically/intellectually challenging.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
I have studied abroad in Australia, and at several local post-secondary institutions, but UBC has always felt like my academic home. The Creative Writing program is one of the best programs in the country, and I was really honoured to be accepted, as the competition is rigorous.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
The talent on the faculty, the wide range of workshops available, and the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful community!
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
I did my undergrad at UBC, and I think the biggest change I noticed (a decade later) is how much more inclusive and safe the University community feels. It's not perfect, but there are so many more initiatives available to protect and support students from all walks of life. Facilitating having conversations and events that matter, and make a difference for equality and visibility, is certainly the right direction for the campus to be moving in.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?
I really love the opportunity to meet and learn from guest lecturers and speakers, and the many events on offer. It's exciting to really feel immersed in this big, beautiful community and get perspectives you may not have had.
What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?
If I'm really honest, as a woman, it's the balance between the work and family life. It is easy to be overlooked or seen as treading water if you're away for a year or two with a baby. There's a lot of pressure to do it all. As a new mom, I have found so much support from the CRWR community and faculty, and it has really made this journey so much easier. I'm very grateful.
How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?
There is a general acknowledgement that you should ask for what you need, and not question your value or contribution, even if you do need to be split between two worlds. I feel very fortunate to have a lot of role-models in the department who are gracefully navigating the role of artist/parent/partner. It definitely makes me feel more resilient and determined.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
Well, I did my BFA in CRWR at UBC, so I was used to the workshop format of submission/feedback. I also have an extensive theatre and film background, and a lot of what you learn in rehearsal or on set is applicable everywhere: support the work, support other artists, be kind and stay on schedule!
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
Walks on the beach or hikes in the woods. Yoga. There are a lot of great yoga options available in Vancouver - I recommend getting the Passport to Prana pass. It's about $30 and you get one free yoga class at a bunch of participating studios, so you can find the right style and studio for you. It's good for the body and mind.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Canadians (especially Vancouverites) can be shy! If you're from overseas, be bold and ask people to lunch - we're nice, we just don't want to step on your toes!