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Crawford School introduces our fantastic staff, so you can get to meet the people of Asia and the Pacific’s leading graduate policy school.
In this Q&A, Dr Bec Colvin tells us why it’s so important to occasionally stop and reflect on what we do in a world that moves so incredibly fast, and shares how baking sourdough bread helps her cope with working from home in times of COVID-19.
1. What do you enjoy most about working here?
The people! I love my colleagues – smart, kind, and funny folks who are a total pleasure to work with and learn from. It’s a great privilege to get to rub shoulders with some of the sharpest minds, no doubt, in the world. And the Crawford students with whom I get to share the classroom are just the best. So thoughtful, engaged, interesting, and with so much to contribute to our mutual exploration of the environment, people, and policy. We’re so fortunate, too, to be in such a beautiful spot – I love looking out over the grasslands to the lake.
2.Can you tell us about your greatest achievement that you reached during your time at Crawford School?
In the 9 months since I joined the Crawford School I’ve appreciated so much the opportunity to think deeply about a long-term research plan. This is truly a privilege, and I wish many other early career researchers had this opportunity. In this time, I’ve seen from conceptualisation to publication my first solo-authored publication, and led or contributed to bringing about another half dozen co-authored articles through to publication. And with the support of the College of Asia & the Pacific research office, I prepared my first major grant proposal. It’s easy to forget to stop and reflect on what we do, when the pace is always so fast, but it has been a really wonderful time for growth and learning.
3.Can you tell us about a student that has made you particularly proud?
Chhunleang Vat graduated from the Master of Public Policy at the end of 2019. I joined the academic procession to watch her graduate. She worked so hard, and overcame so many challenges, and there was not a moment when she wasn’t friendly, warm, giving, and open. She will make such a difference in her home country of Cambodia, and to the world. She demonstrated to me the best of academia – we get to cross paths with people we’d otherwise never meet, and can make lifelong friends, even when the very first conversation starts with ‘welcome to the class and have you read the online course summary’.
4.If you could go back and choose a different career path, what would it be? I actually don’t think I would want to do much else! In a radically different world, I would love to run a wee cottage industry of growing, baking, fermenting, and preserving. But, it’s a pretty sweet deal to get to think and learn and teach and share.
5.Can you give us your top 3 tips about how to stay positive during the COVID-19 outbreak?
For me, I am choosing to value the extra time at home. For example, I LOVE being with my dogs and my veggie garden, and I bake sourdough – it doesn’t interfere with progressing my work, but it does need me to be at home to give the dough a fold occasionally as it does its thing. I have also loved seeing and learning about the people who are using this pretty terrible time to add more good to the world. It’s an important reminder that the world is what we make it, and we can change the things that aren’t working. My heart breaks for the lives lost. I think we need to remember that our own inconvenience is for a greater good. Being cautious about physical proximity can seem like a bit of a hassle, until you remember these practices can save lives and protect well-being. That’s a pretty big motivator to do the right thing and follow the advice of the public health experts.