“Make sure you decide to pursue a degree because you truly love the field of study and not just for a pay cheque afterwards. If you’re in grad school for the money you will get from a potential job after, you’re bound to be unhappy. If you’re here to learn and grow in an area you enjoy, it will be an incredible experience. The best mindset for grad students is that the job will come from your passion in an area, which will enable you to excel and build a career in the field.”
Supervisor: Dr. Mark Bernards
Where did you complete your undergraduate degree?
University of Waterloo, Honours BSc Co-op, Plant Specialization
Why did you come to Western for your graduate degree?
I had a Julie Payette NSERC Scholarship, and could have taken it anywhere in the world. I chose Western because of the research faculty in the Biology Department.
What is it about your grad program that enables you to thrive and be successful?
The support of the faculty to build the degree that you want to, with the understanding that you have choices in how you pursue your degree. I had two children during my PhD, both with year long maternity leaves of absence. This may not have been the “average” choice throughout graduate work, but it was the right one for my family and was fully supported by my faculty supervisor. Also, the incredible resources of the different faculties at Western means there are always great speakers and professionals speaking and facilitating workshops, which allows me to build not only research and teaching skills but develop as a professional.
How do you de-stress?
I play competitive soccer in London, recently my team won the Ontario Championship and went to Nationals in 2015.
What is your “dream” career?
I love to learn and then pay it forward however I can. Thus, as long as there is a component of learning, mentoring, and teaching I am in my dream career. Right now I find that in a mix of business ownership (Health and Wellness Company); tutoring students (where I get to work one-on-one to help them learn new information); and my own research is the perfect blend for all these areas.
What idea, suggestion, or comment would you like to share with the Western graduate community?
Grad students need to take part of their time here at Western to build networks, relationships and utilize the incredible resources outside of their own department. You have access to so many incredible people across this campus, and can build a community that will not only enrich your life while you are here but also will help you transition into the professional community when you have finished your degree. You may be here to focus on a certain area of research, but don’t have too narrow of a focus that you forget to look around and learn from other academics too.
Have you taken any professional courses that Western makes available to graduate students?
I have taken many workshops from MITACS, which are incredible opportunities for students to develop their professional skills. MITACS training is a high caliber with small class sizes, making it an ideal environment to really understand, practice and ask questions on the material.
Do you engage in volunteer activities?
In prior years I have been involved in Let’s Talk Science, an outreach program. I also ran my own Science Enrichment Program for Rural High Schools for a couple years with Biology graduate students before I had kids. I also thoroughly enjoyed volunteering at the Science Olympics at Western.
What are you most passionate about?
Learning and growing – whether on the floor with a four-year-old, in the classroom with a 20-year old, or in a business meeting with a colleague – I love to learn, mentor and grow.
What one thing would you like people to know about you?
I am just like every other student here – often times people look at those who have built a successful life in many areas and think they cannot possibly do it too. You just have to choose what you would like and then find the time to bring it into your life. It started with grad school, then added in a baby, then balancing that, then bringing soccer into the mix, finding a balance, second child … Every time you add in something new you will be a little out of balance for a short period of time, but then you find your system and can keep building a full and happy life.