[R] is for Research Interests – Part I

In addition to my field of study, my research interests have evolved since the beginning of my post-secondary ‘career’. Originally enrolled at the University of Ottawa in Environmental Studies (the artsy version of Environmental Sciences), I realized at a young age that the domain of traditional science isn’t for me. I struggled through classes in physical geography and evolutionary biology. I dabbled in microeconomics and the mandatory first-year philosophy classes and was miserable. I ended up on academic probation and felt lost academically. I’d never failed at anything before and wasn’t sure how to handle it or what to do next. That’s when a friend from grade school (who I happened to run into in one of those philosophy classes) suggested I register for an introductory class in Communications Studies.


From the moment my professor walked into class, a respectable but hip man with a grey suit and a pierced ear, and started talking about the Internet and mobile phones, I was hooked! I pulled my act together fairly quickly, retaking the classes that I’d flunked – turns out that that “E” on my transcripts didn’t stand for “Excellent” – and adding in summer classes, with the goal of raising my GPA so that I could switch into an Honours program, majoring in Communications and minoring in Business Administration.

Success! In the summer semester of my second year, I officially transferred in and spent the rest of my undergrad making up for lost time. I completed my minor in Business Administration (nearly minoring in Accounting at the same time) as well as the major in Communications. The two programs complimented each other nicely – in Comms, I learned the theory behind the media; in Business, I learned the ‘bizness’ of the media, taking several marketing classes and putting theory to practice. All of those accounting classes were an added bonus.


To be continued…

[C] is for Classes… because I swear I have some!

The requirements of a Ph.D program vary based on your area of study, your post-secondary institution and your geographical location. Some like mine require courses, others are more research-based.

The Ph.D. in Communications from the University of Ottawa has course requirements, a comprehensive exam, a research proposal defence and then a dissertation. Four courses are taken in the first year of study (two per semester), followed by the comp and then two more classes. After that it’s all proposal and dissertation.

I really struggled to become engaged in my classes first semester. I enjoyed doing the readings on my own (something I became proficient at during law school), but found that the material didn’t translate and/or wasn’t covered sufficiently in class. For someone with a very busy schedule – something that I acknowledge is entirely my choice – this made class feel like a waste of time.

After the first week of my second term, I am beyond happy to report that my experience is completely different (and I’m not just saying that because this blog is a requirement in one of the classes!). I feel as though the readings will be engaging and practical, that the workload is reasonable yet challenging, that the topics covered will be useful, and that the hand-on experience that we’ll gain from using social media platforms in one class and quantitative and qualitative analysis software in the other will be invaluable. In addition, the courses are conducted in French – although I’ll be submitting assignments in English – which means that I’ll have an opportunity to practice my oral comprehension in terms both of listening and speaking in my second language.

I know that it’s early days into the second semester, but if this week is any indication of how the rest of the semester will go, it’s gonna be a gooder!


[B] is for #bodiesbyphil (and [F] is for #fitfam)

In addition to varsity running, another important part of my life is #bodiesbyphil and the amazing friends (#fitfam) that I’ve made since starting there – a circle of friends which continues to grow.


I found Bodiesbyphil (or BBP, as we affectingly call it) shortly after returning to Ottawa post law school. I was in kind of a funk – I knew I didn’t want to be a lawyer, but had an articling position lined up that I was about to start, my licensing exams to complete and was sinking in debt – and I needed an outlet for stress. That’s when I found Phil’s!

In my first week, I could only get through two classes – with breaks. Within the span of two months, I was going every day, Monday to Friday. By Christmas, I’d signed up for a Goodlife membership so that I could lift weights on the weekends, when BBP was closed.

Not only has BBP transformed me physically – into a beast! –


– but it has transformed me psychologically and emotionally. First and foremost, I’ve made some of the best friends that I have ever had. We support each other in our endeavours inside and outside of the gym; we have fun together at football games, movie nights, comedy shows, dinners – with plans to do tons more!


I’m also more confident and happier than I have ever been – and I credit BBP.

If you can’t find me at varsity practice, it’s because I’m at BBP. 13516258_10154030740959667_7450106689934351357_n

[V] is for Varsity

One of my seminar professors once said that doing a Ph.D is socially isolating. To this I respond, “I think not!” Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to have the opportunity to work on a Ph.D, in an area of research that I’m passionate about, with a supervisor who is compassionate, supportive and an all-around fantastic human being, but the Ph.D is only one component of my life. As this blog will (hopefully!) demonstrate, I’m more than a Ph.D student. I have a life outside of my studies, I have friends and family who I love, and more than my fair share of hobbies that I plan to maintain. In addition to keeping me happy, these hobbies – nay, passions – keep me mentally, physically and emotionally healthy and strong. They’re great opportunities to meet new people, to challenge yourself and grow, and they’re once-in-a-lifetime.

This – and many other reasons – is why I run with the UOttawa Cross Country & Track and Field team. I’m the oldest rookie on the team, but I’m pretty short, so I blend in (that’s me, second from the left in the front row with the pink headband). I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to train and compete as a #geegee and look forward to continuing to do so for the next four years.

On the days when studying feels like it’s never going to end, I always know that there’s a run at the end of the tunnel.


[M] is for Motivation

In September of last year (2016), when I started my Ph.D at the University of Ottawa (OttawaU / UOttawa), I registered for what feels like my millionth blog. I’ve been blogging off and on since the Internet was invented – okay, that’s a bit of stretch, but my first blog was a tribute to Buffy the Vampire Slayer on GeoCities back in the mid-1990s. I intended to start blogging about my experience as a Ph.D student in September, but as with most things in life, well, you know what they say about #goodintentions.

With the beginning of my second semester of the Ph.D and a new course taught by Professor Pierre Levy, the opportunity has arisen to FINALLY pull together the blog. And by opportunity, I mean course requirement. But, to quote a new person in my life, #worksmart. Or to quote a long time favourite:

“Two birds, one stone, and boom. You have yummy dead birds.” 


– Glory, “Blood Ties”, Buffy the Vampire Slayer