Frankie Zhong

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Paulo Freire's Critical Pedagogy.
P. Taylor Webb

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I decided to pursue a graduate degree because I wanted to do further study in a field I love, and because I hope to obtain employment within the field of education. 

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I chose to study at UBC because it is a university that respects diversity and supports international students.

Volunteering, talking to professors, learning to manage your time, finding your "own" writing spot, and seeking mental health resources on campus, such as UBC Wellness Center, are all useful wellness strategies.

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

My undergraduate major is philosophy, however, I chose to pursue a Master of Arts in Education as my program offers several courses on the philosophy of education. Thus my program allows me to combine my philosophical background with my interest in education.

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

I was pleasantly surprised by how much Vancouver embraces diversity. I was also very surprised and impressed when I found out that there are NGOs within the city that help people with mobility challenges to go hiking and paddleboarding.

What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?

One of the things I enjoyed the most during my graduate studies was volunteering. Through my volunteer experience, I gained a great friendship and some new hobbies. My first volunteer experience led me to more volunteer opportunities, and finally a job. My English also improved a lot, and I learned more about Canadian culture, helping me to develop a sense of belonging within my new community. Most importantly, I found volunteering very rewarding because it enabled me to help other people.

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

I think the biggest challenge in my future career will be my lack of practical experience. 

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

My program provides practicum courses for graduate students. For example, I am doing a year-long practicum for UBC International Student Development. The project I am managing is related to international students' mental health. Through this practicum experience, I have learned a lot about how mental health affects international students. Furthermore, I have gained practical experience helping students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, helping me to effectively support international students with their academic projects, career, and mental health.

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

Before I came to UBC and started the graduate program, I did some research online and got in touch with a senior student from my home country in my program by email. This senior student helped me a lot with my application to UBC. After I arrived here, we also met and talked a lot about graduate lives.This connection was invaluable in preparing me for graduate school.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I enjoy talking with friends and eating spicy food!

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

My biggest advice is to recognize the importance of mental health and to spend time taking care of yourself. Graduate student life can be very stressful. However, we can always find time to work on our mental health and be kind to ourselves. I personally find connecting with peers and senior students is a helpful way to cope with stress. Additionally, volunteering, talking to professors, learning to manage your time, finding your "own" writing spot, and seeking mental health resources on campus, such as UBC Wellness Center, are all useful wellness strategies.