What motivated you to become a sociologist?
Don’t laugh! I ended up in sociology because of a flip of a coin. Yes, it’s true. When I finished my undergraduate degree—a double major in history and sociology, at King’s College at Western—I applied to do an MA in Social History at Western or an MA in Historical Sociology at U of T. I got accepted to both programs, flipped a coin, ended up in sociology, and the rest, as they say, is history. Well, maybe not exactly. To be honest, I struggled through graduate school. I felt rudderless, and like an imposter on most days. My then boyfriend, and later husband, Slobodan Drakulic, helped me get through it. I’d arrive at his place in tears. “I feel so dumb,” I’d whimper, between sobs. Slobodan would look down at me (he was a foot taller than me), deep into my eyes, and say “so read!” And read it did. Sociology has become my passion and my life. I love my job and feel fortunate to do what I love at a university packed full of brilliant students, dedicated staff, and hard-working colleagues.
Tell us about your current research projects.
I’m what you’d call a generalist. While my main areas of research are children and families, I have been involved in a number of very different research projects. Most recently, I’ve been doing research on the child care needs and arrangements of employed mothers in rural Quebec and Ontario; on the well-being of youth in Canadian Forces families (with Dr. Deborah Harrison, UNB); on the childcare movement in Canada (with Dr. Rachel Langford, School of Early Childhood Studies at Ryerson and Dr. Susan Prentice, U of Manitoba); on how child care is depicted in Canadian newspapers (with Ann Rauhala, School of Journalism, Ryerson U.); on the intergenerational transmission of problem gambling (with Dr. Lorne Tepperman, U of T); on youth employment initiatives in Canadian unions (with Ryerson student Meagan Minott), and on immigrant children (with Dr. Morley Beiser, Psychology, Ryerson U). I have a few new projects in the works. Can’t wait!
What motivates you to be involved in broader national and international sociological communities?
I got pulled into the CSA by a dear friend and colleague, my “boss”, Dr. Pamela Sugiman, who was then president of the Canadian Sociological Association. I had been involved with the CSA since grad school, presenting papers, organizing sessions, acting as a chair and discussant at conferences, and sitting on the John Porter Book Prize Committee, but Pam encouraged me to get involved with the CSA executive. I served a three-year term as secretary, before taking on a three-year term (coming to an end in May 2015) as CSA president. From there, I got involved in helping to organizing the 2018 ISA Word Congress of Sociology that we will host in Toronto. I’m proud to be a Canadian sociologist and think Canadian sociologists have a lot to contribute on the international stage. I figure, ‘go big or go home’.
Last year you won the Ryerson Faculty of Arts Teaching and SRC Excellence Award. How do you balance teaching and research?
Teaching and research complement each other. I’m a better teacher because I share my research strengths and weaknesses with my students. It helps that I (happily) teach research methods. I’m a better researcher because I try to be an empathetic teacher. I’m passionate about teaching. But I also enjoy the quiet isolation necessary for effective and productive writing. I try to involve undergraduate and graduate students in my research and writing. I hope that along the way, my passion for research, writing and teaching is contagious.
What do you enjoy most about teaching sociology at Ryerson?
That’s a no-brainer--my students, of course! Ryerson has some of the most talented and committed students a prof will ever encounter. They make my job easy (on most days).