Erin Scott


Erin Scott

Photos courtesy of Erin Scott.

alumni UBC’s afterwords is a digital conversation series that shares the stories of some of UBC Okanagan’s extraordinary alumni.

MEET erin scott

1. What is your current profession?

I am currently a PhD student in Interdisciplinary Studies (Digital Arts and Humanities theme) at UBCO where I hold the position of AMP Lab Manager. I am a professional artist and work as a grant writer for Inspired Word Café.

2. What education did you receive at UBC?

A Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing (2011) and a Master of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies (2018).

3. What do you think makes UBC Okanagan great? 

I have been at UBCO since 2007, with various breaks between degrees. Years ago, I would have said that the small, intimate nature of the campus was one of its greatest attributes where you knew most people and had opportunities to make exciting new things happen on a young campus. Now, I think the growing diversity, incredible international student population, and growing connections to the Syilx Okanagan Nation and their peoples contribute to the ways UBCO has grown and is shifting.

4. If you could start university again, would you do anything differently?

No, I don’t think so. 

5. What was your first official job after graduation?

Executive Director of Inspired Word Café (IWC).

6. What is the best part of your current job?

As is common for working artists, I hold many contracts to fill out my income. It’s less conventional but provides freedom in my schedule and variety in my work tasks. Making art professionally and getting paid is pretty amazing. Working in the AMP Lab at UBCO has been wonderful as it connects me to digital humanists and keeps me in the world of poetry through inspiring projects such as SpokenWeb. I love IWC like it’s my first-born baby and being able to continue contributing to its growth, making community happen here in the Okanagan, has been so fulfilling. Using my writing skills to acquire grant funds for various non-profits means I’m constantly giving back to the arts and culture sector in Kelowna and ensuring art stays vibrant in our region.

7. What are some of the challenges you have faced in your career?

Freelance contract work comes with instability. You must piece together what would make up a full-time job and that can be stressful. 

8. What would you like to share with current students who will be graduating in the coming years who have concerns with the current work climate?

Train yourself in pragmatic skills as well as intellectual skills. Being able to use Google Drive, Microsoft Suite, Adobe Suite, etc. can really improve your employability when you finish your degree. Continue learning after your time at UBC.

9. What's the best advice you can give to help plan a career?

Keep a good history of what you have done, i.e. a nice CV. Having a sense of where you are coming from will help shape the choices you make about where you are going. 

`10. Do you have a mentor?  How have they influenced you? 

Yes! I have many mentors. One of my most influential and longest mentor-friendship has been with UBCO Creative Studies Professor Michael V. Smith. He has shaped my art career, opened doors for me, written more reference letters than I care to admit, and upheld me when I’m down about my art. He has influenced me in so many ways and I would not be where I am today without his mentorship and friendship.

11. What is something you continually find yourself saying? 

Be gentle with yourself so you can be gentle with someone else. 

12. How do you balance your work and home life?

I don’t! Ha! I think the idea of balance is not realistic. Sometimes I’m more focused on home and my kids, and other times my work, and other times my community. I have never found a way to balance it all seamlessly, so I surrender to not getting everything always done in all aspects of my life. Sometimes my kitchen is a mess. Sometimes my work needs extensions. It’s all relative and I try to offer what I can, when I can, and accept not being perfect.

13. Where do you volunteer or how do you give back to your community? 

I volunteer with Inspired Word Café and have for years. I’ve sat on the Board of Directors for Children’s Festival Society of Kelowna and been a member of various PACs for my kids’ schools. I mentor emerging artists in the community as well.

14. Do you have any books that you would suggest are a must read?

This is a tough question for a poet! I really love the novel Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq. And one of my favourite books of poems is Rising, Falling, Hovering by C.D. Wright.

15. Who is one UBC Okanagan alum you would like to nominate for afterwords?

Emmett MacMillen. Emmett was IWC’s Managing Director and is now a Producer at Intrepid Theatre in Victoria.