Hello everyone! In my last entry, we had barely started into Spring (if one could have called it that), but as I write this blog we are now full on into Summer and St. John’s is beautiful! (Disclaimer: this may not be the actual case by the time this blog is posted and may also change in the few minutes that it takes you to read this). While the weather is on our side, this is the perfect time to get out and take a hike along the East Coast Trail, and really capture some of the beauty that this province has to offer! The best part is that you do not need to travel very far outside of St. John’s in order to take in some impressive sights. Just recently, a friend and I hiked the East Coast Trail from Portugal Cove to Bauline (Piccos Ridge Path) and were impressed with the ocean and land vistas all around us – the fact that we were able to see numerous whales and icebergs along the way was also an added bonus. The above picture shows Josh and I stopping just before Brock’s Head viewpoint for some lunch and a well-earned rest. But truth be told, that particular trail was a beast to get through! Literally, there were ropes along some of the route for hikers to use as the path either climbed up or scaled down an incredibly challenging part of the trail. Needless to say, I was extremely happy to see the fishing wharf in Bauline, signalling that the hike was over and that I had completed the trek. Regardless of my tired legs and sore knees, however, I still look forward to the next trail that I’ll hit. Perhaps I’ll attempt the Cape Broyle Head Path or Spout Path next…but after some rest.

In terms of school, this is a bit of an interesting time of year for me as I am finishing up my thesis, and am about to start my doctoral studies. It feels like a weird tension to be in with one journey ending and another one about to begin. As a consequence of finishing up my current studies, I found myself reflecting about the previous two years and thinking toward the next phase of my graduate training. Quite honestly, this all came to a head as I was preparing the “acknowledgements” page of my thesis write-up. I thought about all of the achievements I accomplished throughout my masters, but also couldn’t help but think about some of the trying times that occurred as well. For example, some of the celebratory items included being part of a team that published a study about alibi believability (yep, this is the study I talked about in one of my earlier blogs), and being selected as a recipient of a Legal Research Award from the Law Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador. Some challenges included being unsuccessful in all of my funding applications, but a particularly tough trial was when tragedy struck my personal life during my second month at school. In both cases, however, support networks naturally developed around me in order to help me persevere. In fact, my master’s journey is analogously similar to the hike that Josh and I took together: There were both relatively easy and extremely difficult features of the path, numerous slips and falls along the way, but many rewarding sights and sounds from start to finish. I’m especially glad that I was able to complete the hike with a buddy, much in the same way that I am forever grateful to have a crew of peers around me in the lab as we all make the trek toward each of our own academic finish lines. I am very happy and satisfied to have ran the first set of proverbial laps in this marathon of graduate training here at Memorial University. In this moment, I have that same feeling that I did when I came out of the woods in Bauline and could see that little fishing wharf off in the distance; it meant that in only a few hundred more meters the hike would be complete. I am so pumped to cross the master’s degree finish line in the coming weeks!

As I look forward toward my next adventure, I can already foresee that there will be a few added responsibilities mixed into my day-to-day academic life – some of which are due to my own volition, while others are simply just part of the territory. A large part of my PhD responsibilities will be focusing on developing (and conducting) various research ideas related to my field of forensic psychology, while simultaneously preparing for my comprehensive examination. I am hopeful that the time that I have invested into my lab thus far will help me get a jump on some of the study ideas that have been developing over the last two years. Time will tell if any of these ideas will bring worthwhile value and/or inform constructive change to the Canadian criminal justice system. Other aspects (of my own doing) will include facilitating a colloquium series for all of the master level psychology graduate students, giving various guest lectures, and helping to co-supervise some of our lab’s new honours students – we have a great crew of senior undergraduates becoming part of our lab’s team.

I’m both excited and nervous to start the next stage of my academic training, but welcome all of the challenges that lie before me. Nonetheless, it can be easy to fall victim to the idea that you are ill-prepared for the next step in your academic career. Many of the bloggers (myself included) have referred to the idea of ‘imposter syndrome’ in some of our previous blogs, and despite having success at graduate school this feeling never seems to completely go away. But remember this: by being accepted into a graduate program, this means that you can do it; you do have what it takes. If you’re in the program, it means you have the right stuff to succeed. This advice is as much for me as it is for any of you who may feel this way. So take heart and look forward toward the challenges that lie before you: They may appear to be impossible mountains to climb or descend (much like the section of Black Cliff along the Piccos Ridge Path), but they will become monuments of success and markers of your achievement along your academic journey.

I have also been invited back to continue blogging into my doctoral studies, so I’m sure you’ll be hearing about the various points throughout my next academic journey. Stay tuned to see how my next adventure develops and plays out. As always, I hope my story will help inform or shape your own in your pursuit of graduate studies.

Until next time…