A day in the life of Leah Kelley

May 12, 2016

School of Public Policy master's student and 2016 Three Minute Thesis finalist Leah Kelley talks about study space at the Vancouver campus, bike lanes, and where to go if you are craving something spicy. 

About Leah 

I was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta and completed my Bachelor's Degree in Social Work at the University of Calgary in 2010. Prior to moving to Vancouver to start my Master's Degree in Public Policy at SFU, I spent more than four years supporting women to get assistance, connect with others and work for change at a grassroots non-profit called Women's Centre of Calgary

Why SFU?

I chose SFU's School of Public Policy because of its practical focus. In addition to learning important theory, I have had the opportunity to get my hands dirty and conduct useful and timely research and policy analysis. 

Why BC?

I love how green the city is. Pun intended. As big as Metro Vancouver can feel at times, there are so many accessible green spaces in which I can find spots that allow me to feel like I am in the middle of nowhere. I am also a big fan of curbside composting, bike lanes and efficient public transit. 

Advice for new grad students

Last year a graduate student gave a valuable piece of advice to me. She warned me not to think of the MPP degree as a series of sprints but rather I should approach it as if it is a marathon. This has proven to be incredibly useful advice! 

Banditas Taqueria

Favorite Places 

I’m such an avid user of the graduate student research commons at the Bennett Library that I recently met another graduate student outside of my program that knew which desk is “my desk”. During the day, I typically work there or in Room 3000 at Harbour Centre where policy students have most of our classes. The view of the North Shore Mountains and Vancouver Harbour from Room 3000 is incredible – we even saw orcas in the harbor during class one day last year. 

Off campus, I love to spend time outside and frequently go for walks at Burnaby Mountain or Burnaby Lake. Last summer my partner and I spent a lot of time canoeing in various locations across the lower mainland.  

I can often be found eating the spiciest food I can find. My favourite restaurant is Banditas Taqueria on Commercial drive. I also enjoy really good coffee. I am big fan of coffee from JJ Bean and Trees Organic

A "typical" day at SFU

Each day is different but I have broken my most typical day down into sections.


I wake up early. Despite not classifying myself as a morning person, I have the best focus in the early hours of the day. My first cup of coffee gets me going as I prepare for the day ahead and I always fill my travel mug with more for the road.

The rest of the morning consists of traveling by SkyTrain to Harbour Centre and attending a class or a meeting or taking the bus up to “the mountain” to work on my assignments and capstone thesis.


After taking a quick lunch break (I recommend Guadalupe’s at SFU Burnaby) I typically get back to work on my capstone and other assignments. As the co-chair of the Master of Public Policy Student Caucus, I also frequently send e-mails and connect with other students regarding caucus initiatives.


My evenings typically begin with cooking and sharing dinner with my partner. My favourite meal to cook is black bean and sweet potato burritos. After dinner, I take some down time if possible. I might attend an open mic or spoken word event, watch Netflix or catch up with family and friends. Often, however, I have to put in more hours of work. In the evening I catch up on course readings or plan and practice presentations. 

Find out more

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