Caitlyn Yates

 
Transcontinental Migrant Journeys through the Americas
Faculty of Arts
Shaylih Muehlmann
Lampasas
United States of America
 
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

After my masters, I worked for a few years as a policy analyst. While I was, and continue to be, very interested in policy, I realized that many of the research questions I was asking could not be answered with datasets and policy analysis alone. So, I decided to go back to university and pursue my PhD in anthropology where I could focus on collaborative, ethnographic research based in the communities that I had been researching from afar during my policy work.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

The opportunity to live in Vancouver for a few years was certainly a draw to ultimately study at UBC, but there were several substantive facets of UBC that ultimately drew me in. I was really excited about the number of scholars across the university working on migration and mobility related topics. When I first applied, the university had a migration research cluster which has now been converted into the Centre for Migration Studies. This was a huge draw for me to be able to continue working from an interdisciplinary perspective on migration research. I became involved in the centre as quickly as possible. I was also drawn to UBC because of the policy school and the fact that I would have the opportunity to take classes and to engage policy discussions while in the anthropology department. Given my policy background and my goal to keep my research as public facing as possible, UBC's emphasis on public scholarship and interdisciplinary exchange really sold me.

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

When I started applying for PhD programs, I had three main criteria. First, I was looking for a program that emphasized qualitative methods training as a strong component of the program. Second, was looking for a program that had scholars working extensively on issues of mobility and migration in the discipline of anthropology. And third, I was looking for a program that had a good balance of scholars who were working in the same region as me - Latin America - but also scholars working elsewhere in the world. The department of anthropology really checked all of those boxes.

I was really excited about UBC because of the number of scholars across the university working on migration and mobility related topics. Given my policy background and my goal to keep my research as public facing as possible, UBC's emphasis on public scholarship and interdisciplinary exchange really sold me.
 
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

I have tried to approach my research around human migration and mobility from as wide a lens as possible. I have worked as a legal assistant and a policy analyst; I have worked with NGOs and briefed government officials; I have conducted fieldwork and volunteered migrant detention centers. While at times, it has been a bit difficult to focus on migration from exclusively an anthropological perspective during my PhD, I also think that I would not be as prepared for my program or my proposed doctoral project had it not been for my diverse experiences prior to graduate school.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

My two favorite ways to spend my time are playing tennis and cooking. I have played tennis for about 15 years and always make a point to find a tennis partner whenever I move to a new city. As for cooking, I enjoy the time to make a good meal after a long day - and to learn new dishes and tricks along the way.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

My first piece of advice is to not be afraid to ask. Throughout my policy career and now, and particularly as I started to study and learn about potential PhD programs, I emailed everyone. Students, potential advisors, folks who had decided not to pursue PhDs— I had conversations with them about their experiences. I think that helped me immensely in narrowing my own research goals and understanding what I was looking for in a program. Even outside of my studies, I have asked to work on collaborative projects, for funding opportunities, or if I could work with a researcher that I admired as a research assistant. Many of the most impactful opportunities I have had as a student and a professional have come from my decision to just ask. So, don’t be afraid to ask and to reach out.

 
 
 

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