When she first arrived at UBC Okanagan, psychology student Jordyn Cates, who is from the Okanagan Indian Band in Vernon, wanted to connect with an Indigenous community within the university population.
In her third year, Cates applied to participate in the Indigenous Research Mentorship Program (IRM) run by Indigenous Programs and Services. Started in 2015, the program’s goal is to provide self-identified Indigenous students in all faculties the ability to gain hands-on research experience at an undergraduate level. In addition to being paired with a mentor in their area of research interest, students attend workshops and programming throughout the research experience—building friendships and community with other students along the way.
Cates was paired with Psychology Professor and cannabis researcher Dr. Zach Walsh, and also had the opportunity to work closely with doctoral student Michelle St. Pierre. Her first year in the program was spent working on interview transcription, which gave Cates an important perspective of what research looks like at every level, “and how essential people are to the process, even if you’re just transcribing interviews.”
While Cates was over the moon to be Dr. Walsh’s mentee and work on cutting-edge drug policy research, her ultimate “a-ha” moment came while attending AISES, an Indigenous STEM conference, at McGill University—an opportunity she gained through the IRM. “Seeing Indigenous STEM researchers coming together to present these findings ignited something within me,” Cates says. “It showed me that one day, I could be up there presenting.” In fact, the conference was so impactful for Cates that she ended up co-founding the UBCO chapter of AISES to stay involved with the organization and connect with other Indigenous STEM researchers and professionals.
Please read the full story at the UBC Okanagan news website.
Under Strategy 17: Indigenous Engagement, the university is committed to supporting the objectives and actions of the Indigenous Strategic Plan.