A day in the life of Kelly Shoecraft

July 12, 2016

Kelly Shoecraft, a Visiting Research Scholar in the Faculty of Education, talks about balancing motherhood and advanced studies, unwinding at the Vancouver Aquatic Centre, and where to find some of the best cheese in the city!

About Kelly

I was born in Queensland, Australia where it is almost always hot and sunny. I completed a Bachelor of Education and after teaching for a couple of years, I left Australia to work as a fille-au-pair in Paris for one year. That was 14 years ago, and I am still living outside of Australia.

I completed my Master's in Applied Linguistics at an Australian university as an external student while living in Bordeaux, France. I am currently a Visiting Research Scholar in Education at SFU, in the area of Applied Linguistics.

I work as a Graduate Writing Facilitator at the SFU Research Commons, and I love meeting other grad students and learning about their research.

I also have a one year old daughter who keeps me constantly on my toes and is teaching me new things every day.

Why SFU?

I met a fantastic professor at SFU (who is my current supervisor) and we share similar research interests and research approaches. She also happens to be French!

Why BC?

I actually followed my now-husband here when he moved to Canada for work. It's a bit of a cliché but it has worked out really well for us — and for my research. We have stayed in BC for the beautiful nature — we live in a city but are surrounded by water, mountains and forests. We love the outdoor lifestyle — skiing in winter and camping, hiking, kayaking in summer. Plus, Vancouver is such an amazing multicultural city.

Advice for new grad students

Creating networks is vital — people to share your challenges and successes with, as well as people to just have study free time with!

Guilt-free breaks from study are also really important.

Make use of all the excellent resources available to you — e.g The Research Commons

Advice for being a parent and a grad student

I’m still learning this process too but I have found it is necessary to compartmentalise aspects of my life.  When I’m studying, I can’t think about my baby or feel guilty that I’m not with her.  Similarly, when I’m with my daughter, I can’t feel guilty about not studying.

Being very organised has become even more necessary. At the end of one study session, I write a note of the next task/goal on my list so I can get started again as soon as I have another study session. 

I’ve also had to be creative with how I organise my study into my life.  I have meetings with my supervisors on Skype and sometimes I take my daughter to meetings on campus – where I occasionally get strange looks for having a baby with me. I’ve had amazing support from my supervisors and colleagues who are okay with my daughter attending meetings, etc. I also had to find ways to exercise with a child – for example the chariot on the bike, which I can also use to take her running with me.

Favorite Places 

I have a lot less time because of being a mum so I try to limit my travel time! I study in my home office — which is becoming more and more cosy and functional. Or I will work at the JJBean coffee shop which is literally under my apartment building.

At the park with my daughter — there are so many great parks in the downtown area. I also like to go to the pool. The Vancouver Aquatic Centre has a childminding service, so I can go for a swim and then sit in the hot tub or sauna for some ‘me time’.

There are too many great places to choose from. I am regularly at Jako Sushi on Davie St. I also love Nuba (Lebanese cuisine), Noodlebox, and any of the cheese selection from Les Amis du Fromage (an amazing cheese shop on Hastings Street).

A "typical" day at SFU

Lately my ‘darling’ daughter has been waking me up at 5am. We’ll lie in bed together for a while, then after breakfast it’s play time and usually a trip to the park or to her swimming lesson. During her nap, I can sometimes do some work or study, if there isn’t housework to be done, or if I don’t need a nap myself! Afternoon is more play — maybe a bike ride, a play date, or a visit to the aquarium. My husband usually does the bath and bed time with my daughter so I can do a little more work. Then it’s dinner and some zoned out tv time before collapsing into bed.

Mondays I have a babysitter for the day so I can do some serious study and make some progress on my dissertation!  This is when I need to have organised goals and be motivated to work — I am paying to have this time so I have to be productive.

I try to remember to take regular breaks to stretch or have a snack. I often go for a half hour run in the afternoon to clear my head. Usually I struggle to be productive by the end of the day so I do some less intensive, but necessary, tasks for my dissertation or I head down to the coffee shop with some reading. It’s always a bit of a struggle to snap out of study mode at the end of the day when I’m with my family again.

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