Lucas Zhang

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

My educational, professional, and community service experiences have paved the way towards pursuing a graduate degree in Educational Studies. This decision was not made lightly, however, and was the result of an extensive personal reflection process that confirmed my determination to be a lifelong learner. A lifetime of learning is a way of instilling a growth mindset for lifelong success. Not only does pursuing a graduate degree further enhance my critical and experimental thinking capabilities, it also provides a comprehensive understanding of a wide range of issues around the world. In pursuing a graduate degree in Educational Studies with a focus on Society, Culture and Politics in Education, I aspire to generate critical understandings on the methodologies and the impact exerted by an experimental implementation of education in different disciplinary contexts.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Economics from UBC in 2011 and I will always be indebted to UBC for providing me with a sound education and many numerous opportunities for personal growth and breakthrough. Not only is UBC one of the most prestigious universities in Canada that is devoted to excellence in teaching, learning, and research by offering a wide range of rigorous academic programs, it is also filled with a vibrant culture with a focus on creating a diverse and thriving community where all faculty members, staff, and students are closely connected with each other. I had an amazing, fulfilling, and empowering undergraduate journey at UBC, which has led me down an incredible and fruitful path in life. As an alumnus, undoubtedly, a nexus of deep affection and UBC’s aspirations has profoundly shaped my decision of pursuing graduate studies at UBC.

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

I am quite marveled at the extensive breadth of such an interdisciplinary program in the educational field that provides a balanced approach for me to broaden my experiences and foster my critical understandings on how education align its ideologies with the methodologies through a multifaceted combination of different disciplines.

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

Life in Vancouver is full of surprises. Vancouver is an international hub surrounded by incredible wildlife, scenery, and landscapes. In addition, people in Vancouver are very friendly, open-minded, warm-hearted, and welcoming. What surprises me the most is that Vancouver is such an eco-friendly city that puts a lot effort into recycling, and organics pick-up in order to protect and sustain the ecosystems.

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

I have 3 years of work experience providing ongoing support in executing educational programs and community outreach initiatives. I also have experience guiding a team in developing measurable goals, objectives, and strategies to ensure achievement of desired outcomes for a wide range of learning programs. This has expanded my skillset in segregating large volumes of tasks efficiently, preparing me for my UBC graduate program.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I am really into all kinds of outdoor adventure activities. I enjoy hanging out with friends for hiking, biking, snowboarding, rafting, scuba diving and more. I also like traveling around and exploring new places and cultures.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Graduate school is quite different from undergraduate life. You have experienced and learned a lot up to this point in your life. Hence, having a positive outlook, strong mental capacity, resilience, and accountability are the necessities in graduate school. You are responsible for your own studies and dependent on yourself to cope with challenges emerging from life and school. Your supervisor or professors will not constantly monitor your progress or remind you of the deadlines. In other words, it is vitally crucial to develop effective study and research skills to succeed. I have the following advice that might help new graduate students orient themselves to graduate school life better. First, efficiency or productivity is the priority and we need to ensure how to manage our time wisely between social life, academics, and work. Developing a regular study and life routine as a discipline is quite helpful to get the tasks and things required accomplished within a timeframe. Second, write down your thoughts, ideas, and questions when conducting the research for your own academic pursuits. It is useful and resourceful to direct you towards the interests of your graduate work. Third, it is okay not to remember every single detail of what you read. Graduate school usually involves a lot of reading. It is important to learn how to read smart while comprehending the main points effectively. Do not write down and highlight everything while going through the pages. I recommend reading the papers in the following order: the abstract/introduction, subheadings, the conclusion, and references/bibliography. Afterwards, it is important to summarize and analyze the important information and main ideas, and propose relevant questions while skimming the context. Last but not least, staying organized is the fundamental principle to help you stay on the right track throughout your graduate school journey.