This picture was taken after my last exam for my Masters degree — all students in Oxford have to wear their uniform (called sub fusc) to exams and many choose to follow the tradition of wearing a carnation to denote which exam they are writing (white for first, pink for middle, red for final) (2018).


Cathy Clegg

Graduation Year:
Current Career/Job Title:
Senior School Science Teacher and Lab Technician
Current Company/Organization Name:
Brockton School
Where you were born? 
Calgary, Alberta
Where do you live now? 
Vancouver, British Columbia




What makes this job a good fit for you?

I work at a particularly incredible school that not only encourages curiosity and engagement in their students, but in their faculty and staff as well. I have been encouraged to think creatively to support the development of scientific curiosity and environmental responsibility in our students. I learned during my degree at UBC the importance of learning outside (through my many field ecology courses) and I have been able to use those outdoor education techniques with my students at Brockton

If you pursued further education after graduating, what role did this additional training play in your career journey?

Standing on a cliff in Costa Adeje, Tenerife, Spain, taken on a field trip to Tenerife as a part of my Masters (2018).

Since I finished my BSc (Hons) Biology at UBC, I have completed two additional degrees: a BEd (Secondary Science Specialization) from the University of Calgary and an MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management from the University of Oxford. When I completed my BEd, I was frustrated by the restrictions of the provincially-mandated curriculum; I wanted to instill a sense of responsibility to the environment in young minds. Through my MSc, I met so many amazing people from all around the world who reminded me of the important role a good teacher can make. This degree allowed for me to gain the skills and perspective that my role in my community is making a significant difference.

What challenges did you face in launching your career?

I think the biggest challenge was in the application process. It is so disheartening to be sending resumés to hundreds of jobs to never receive a response, or worse receive a rejection. At one point, I was actually told that I was both “under and over qualified for the job”. That was perhaps the worst response I have ever gotten — what are you supposed to do with information like that? I think in the end I applied for over 100 jobs and received 3 responses. However, one of those responses was from my current employer. At the time, they weren’t looking to hire a full-time employee, but I took the job anyway because it sounded like a good fit for me. It is so endlessly tiring to send out those applications, but in the end that effort will be repaid.

What is your best career advice?

Don’t be afraid to try something new or daunting; apply to EVERYTHING. Right after I finished my BSc, I was nominated for the Rhodes Scholarship. Before that point, I had never even considered going to school in the UK, much less the University of Oxford. I didn’t receive the scholarship, however I did still apply to both Oxford and Cambridge. To my great surprise, I was accepted to both and chose Cambridge as, at the time, it seemed a better fit. Upon moving to England, I recognized quickly that it was not the right fit and came home. This was a very stressful and depressing time of my life. Four years later, I decided to try that journey again and went to Oxford — I had matured and was more focused on what I wanted out of my degree. I have spoken to a number of people who say “I could never get in, so what’s the point?”, to which I always respond “What’s the harm?”.

What are some highlights from your time in the Biology Program at UBC?

Being outside! Prior to starting at UBC, I had actually begun my biology degree at the University of Calgary. There, of course, the climate doesn’t really allow for much time to be spent outdoors during the winter. I was so thrilled to learn that so many of UBC’s biology classes have opportunities to practice science outside. In particular, I will always cherish my time spent at Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre — what I truly believe to be the most spectacular place on the planet.

Holding Pisaster brevispinus on a field trip during my Marine Invertebrate Zoology class at Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre (2012).

Are there any other achievements or activities you would like to highlight?

During my MSc at Oxford, I was awarded the Popular Science Writing Award for a blog I wrote: “Seal or Salmon? Sustainable meat with an adorable face”. I was also a co-creator for the department’s podcast during my time.