Graduate student profiles
“Accounting is unlike most fields in the Faculty of Arts in that it is an applied field. Very few students choose to continue on to graduate studies,” says Vishal Baloria, a fourth year PhD student in the School of Accounting and Finance at the University of Waterloo.
After living in Vancouver, Montreal, India, and Mexico City, Linda Whittaker returned to her hometown of Waterloo for the PhD program in Accounting. When looking at schools, Linda hoped to find a PhD program “that would allow me to have a fairly broad perspective on possible research questions and topics.” She also cites the mix of empirical and behavioural research methods as a big draw to the program.
“Evolution is such a strong part of my research and how I think of the world and how things came to be,” says Kaleigh Eichel, an MA candidate in Public Issues Anthropology. As a physical anthropologist, her field of research is the hybridization of Neanderthals and modern humans. “There are very few skeletons from that period in existence today, making model re-construction difficult” she says.
"I’ve been at the school for a very long time,” says Ryan Walsh. Having started at UWaterloo in Computer Science, changing programs to complete his BA in Classical Studies, and participating in co-op, it is safe to say that Ryan knows this university inside and out. But with his thesis near completion, he is nearly ready to move on and begin work on his PhD at McMaster University.
With her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Global Studies, the Master of Digital Experience Innovation was a change in direction for Deanna Sim. “I wanted to do something different and thought this was a bit of a curveball.” During her time at Wilfrid Laurier University, Deanna incorporated digital media into her work with the student union, creating promotional videos and a digital presence for the organization.
Samantha St. Amand gives a very succinct perspective on the Master of Arts in Economics program, describing it as a “good gig.”
“In this department, everything seems possible,” says Yu Chen, PhD student in the department of Economics. “The program is expanding fast, and in a good way. With it being a young program, there are very few barriers. If you have an idea, and you work hard, that idea will come true. The department will give you all of the support you want and need.”
“There is a lot going on in the area; Kitchener-Waterloo supports the arts quite a bit. I’m not sure if the audience is quite there but the city is putting money behind the arts and people are getting excited. Technology and arts are there and trying to burst out.” Farah Yusuf, a recent graduate of the Master of Arts Experimental Digital Media (XDM) program in the English Language and Literature department, explains that not only is the program unique, there is also a range of interesting events and projects happening in the K-W area that complement the student projects.
For many, it may be difficult to see the intersection between technology and traditional literary studies. But for Adam Bradley, there was a link there and a relationship yet to be discovered. Adam is a graduate of UWaterloo’s Master’s program in Experimental Digital Media and a PhD candidate in the department of English Language and Literature working towards a double doctorate in English and Systems Design Engineering.
Nicholas Breton was drawn to UWaterloo’s MFA program because of the extensive teaching opportunities built into the graduate experience. “It’s quite unusual for a school to offer two TA appointments to each student. And this is the only school in Canada that provides grad students with a sessional teaching position.”
Lisa Feil is a returning UWaterloo student, having completed her undergraduate degree here in French Studies. As a participant of the French Teaching Specialization, Lisa then went on to Teacher’s College at Nipissing University. “I had the opportunity to work in French and see how it is taught and why it’s taught.
Coleen Even’s academic career began in France at l’Université de Nantes. She had never planned to do her PhD but after an exchange at UWaterloo, she applied and was accepted into the program. “I really liked the seminars and the research areas within the department. The faculty members are at the top of their field and there is a lot of opportunity to incorporate digital elements into your work.”
“I chose this program because it gave me an opportunity to spend a year studying abroad in Germany” says Tanya, an MA candidate Intercultural German Studies, “and UWaterloo is also the perfect location to study German because there is such a large German population in the area and the community is very active.” Tanya is part of a unique Master’s program that combines course work and practical experience, with a year of study at the University of Mannheim in
“The German department puts a large emphasis on teaching in the grad program. From the first year of the PhD program, you are given your own class to teach,” says Kyle Scholz. Although they are given curriculum and guidelines to follow, individual lessons and class management is up to each graduate instructor.
Alison Bottomley, a Master’s student in Global Governance, has embraced the international opportunities that the Balsillie School and University of Waterloo have to offer. She recently completed an internship, a requirement of the program, as a Research Intern with CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, a civil society organization based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
“The fantastic thing about the program is that it is multidisciplinary. There are students and faculty with strong backgrounds in political science, sociology, geography, and international relations who can draw on their different backgrounds to give shape to the program content.” She explains that the diversity of the program gives students additional tools to inform their existing research topic.
There was never any question that Rebecca Weir would study history. “Even in high school, I loved history. It just made sense.” And when it came time to choose a school, it was her family history that sealed the deal. “My dad went to Waterloo and took a double major in Geography and History. He always speaks so fondly of his time here, it was sort of an easy choice for me,” she says. “We’ve even had some of the same professors!”
“This is one of the largest history programs in Canada.” Scott Harrison, PhD candidate in History goes on to explain that the Tri-University Graduate Program in History program, which is comprised of UWaterloo, University of Guelph and Wilfred Laurier University, provide students with unique opportunities and facilities. “Not only do you have access to the faculty and staff at each university, but you also have access to the digital and campus libraries. As a history student, constantly needing access to written materials, this certainly adds to the program.”
“My interest in peace building and conflict resolution began when I lived in Armenia. The country has a long history of conflict and war and insecurity. As a child, I was able to learn from the stories and experiences of family members. They talked of the devastating effects of war on society and the challenges and triumphs that can follow.
“The grad community is really cool at UWaterloo, and in our department specifically,” says Ashley Keefner, an MA student in Philosophy. “Everybody talks to each other and helps each other.” Whether it is looking over each other’s papers, practicing for presentations together, or grabbing lunch at the grad house, peers and professors in the Department of Philosophy provide constant support.
Having received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Victoria, Karina then came to UWaterloo for her MA on the recommendation of her undergraduate professors. “Waterloo’s partnerships with the Balsille School of International Affairs (BSIA) and Wilfred Laurier University definitely contributed to my decision to attend. The partnerships meant so many more opportunities of a very broad nature,” Karina explains.
Gordon Pennycook tries to be on campus every day from 9am to 5pm. “I treat it like a job.” A PhD candidate in Cognitive Psychology, Gordon explains that it is all about efficiency for him. “It is easy to be inefficient if you don’t keep regular hours.” Gordon’s research is focused on reasoning and decision-making, examining factors that influence when and how a person will overcome an intuitive or gut response.
“As children become independent readers, and pictures and images become less frequent in the books they read, they must be able to do much of the work on their own to construct characters, their actions, and their environments,” explains Angela Nyhout, PhD student in the Developmental Psychology program, “however, this is a process we know very little about.” She focuses her dissertation research on narratives or stories, specifically children’s ability to
Whitney Philippi comes to the Master of Public Service program with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Trent University and five years of work experience in Student Affairs. “My position at Trent was funded by provincial grants and focused on programming for first generation students.
“I’m very interested in what happens when you bring religion into public space,” says Laura Stemp-Morlock of her PhD dissertation. Examining how religious minorities have played a role in the development of hate speech legislation, Laura hopes to articulate how the legislation intersects with the larger conversation about Canada as a secular nation.
One aspect of policing deviance that remains shrouded in mystery is the role of Media Relations Officers. Having noticed a trend in declining public confidence in policing, Sonya Bittner is examining both quantitative and qualitative data to better understand the claims-making capacities of Media Relations Officers.
“We, as students, are working with the best of the best in the field,” says Carlie Leroux-Demir, a 5th year PhD student in Sociology. The Sociology and Legal Studies department is home to diverse faculty members with a wide range of expertise, from deviance and criminology to education and gender to security and governance.