Minds We Meet—Katrina Griffiths

Katrina Griffiths is a thirty-two-year-old living in Alberta studying toward a Bachelor of Science with plans to eventually go on to do a masters in astrophysics and then a PhD with hopes of teaching or doing research. In her spare time, she enjoys podcasting and writing. This is Kat’s story.

Could you tell me a bit about yourself? Who are you, where are you from?

My name is Kat, I am thirty-two years old and I was born and raised in a small town on the border of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. I moved to Edmonton, Alberta six years ago with my partner (he’s originally from Alberta) and our cat Pepsi.

Describe the path that led you to AU. What made you decided to go back to university?

When I moved to Alberta I started working in an office as a “for now” thing until I could get the chemistry credits I needed to apply to the University of Alberta. After six years of saying I would go back to school but could not afford it I found AU. As cliché as it sounds, I realized I no longer had any excuses not to go back to school. Instead of getting chemistry credits, I realized I could get a whole degree and work at the same time. I decided to get my Bachelor of Science—to prove to myself that I could—and to be the first person in my family to go to university.

Any advice for anyone who is scared or on the fence about going back to school?

Honestly, just go back to school if you can. Stop worrying and overthinking it and just do it. You only live life once and you don’t want to be that person who regrets not going back to school. There are so many amazing funding programs if money is an issue and I guarantee if you reach out to friends for help with time or childcare or something, they will be impressed that you’re making that leap so they’ll do what they can.

What was it like moving to Alberta? Do you miss the Maritimes?

Moving to Alberta from a small-town was scary even with my partner being from here and knowing his way around. But it was also very exciting, and it was great to have so many more opportunities here. I miss the humidity back in the Maritimes and the lower cost of living, but I love all the different people and cultures here.

What do you like to do when you are not studying?

When I’m not studying, I’m a podcaster and writer. I am part of an all-female Doctor Who podcast called Verity! I also run a solo music podcast called Start the Music! I interview people in the music industry, both artists and the lesser known stars like engineers, tour managers, etc.

What made you want to start a Podcast? Do you want to provide a link?

I’m involved in a few podcasts and I love talking about things that I’m passionate about. It’s an opportunity to share a part of myself with a group that has similar interests. My podcast is: stmpodcast.com and my Doctor Who podcast that I cohost with five other amazing women is veritypodcast.com.

If you could interview anyone for your podcast who would it be and why?

Just one person? How could I choose just one? I’m going to go with two people because I cannot pick just one. It would have to be Professor Brian Cox which still fits the music theme since he was in a band in the 90s or Brian May, the guitarist for Queen and an astrophysicist. There are plenty of punk musicians that I love to interview, but I think those two would be game changers.

What are your plans with a Bachelor of Science?

My plans for this education are to keep going. After I get my bachelor’s I have my eyes set on getting my masters in astrophysics and then my PhD. After that, it’ll most likely be a job in research or teaching, although I am less worried about that for now.

What about astrophysics interests you?

Astrophysics interests me because it is so big and humbling. You’re looking at how the universe works, that’s the question all the great philosophers and scientists ask and it’s on a grand scale in astrophysics and then on a smaller scale in particle physics, which, to me, is like the mini-me of astrophysics.

Who in your life had the greatest influence on your desire to learn?

I have plenty of support to go back to school and to keep up with school from my partner, my friends, and my family. However, one person I look up to and has given me strength to try to reach this dream is Brian May, the lead guitarist from Queen. He took 29 years to finish his thesis and get his PhD in astrophysics. His love for cosmology is contagious. It inspires me to keep working at it no matter the distractions.

Do you like learning online? What do you like and dislike?

So far, I’m enjoying online learning. I love reading and working through projects, being able to work at anytime and anywhere is a big asset. Sometimes I dislike not having lectures and the regular classes every day or having to find supplemental material to help work through a problem.

At what point did you waver the most about continuing your schooling? What caused it and what got you through it?

I wavered the most just before I signed up for my first course. I wondered if it was a mistake, if I was taking too much on. Then I got advanced access to the text and lesson plan and all that doubt went away. I love learning.

What’s your most memorable AU course so far, and why?

I’m still new, but ENGL255 is a lot of fun and I’m enjoying all the essays.

Have you given up anything to go to AU? Was it worth it?

I have not had to give anything up to go to AU. Financially I can afford the courses if I take them one at a time and I’m managing my time well, so far.

How do you find communications with your course tutors?

What little I’ve had to communicate with my tutor, it’s been very good.

Do you have any pet peeves?

I don’t know if I have a pet peeve, other than maybe rude people.

What famous person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why?

I would love to have lunch with Brian May, if only to pick his brain about his education journey. Brian Cox would definitely be a close second for similar reasons.

Describe the proudest moment in your life.

The proudest moment of my life was an interview I did with one of my favourite TV actors for 400 people.

Describe one thing that distinguishes you from most other people.

One thing that distinguishes me from other people is my time management skills. I never have empty blocks of time that I do not mean to put there.

What (non-AU) book are you reading now?

Right now, I’m reading Carl Sagan’s Cosmos and loving it. I highly recommend.