Honours Bachelor of Science (BSc) Double Major in Medical Sciences and Spanish Language/Hispanic Cultures, Minor in Global Development (2016)
“I've always enjoyed interdisciplinary learning. I also knew I wanted to pursue a career in either global health and/or global development and thought that being fluent in a second language would be crucial.”
How did you come to study both Spanish and Medical Sciences at Western?
I came to Western wanting to pursue work that would allow me to contribute to improving healthcare systems in low-resource settings. Out of high school, I thought the only way to do that was through medicine and delved straight into science. However, in my second year, wanting a break from my science course load, I started taking Spanish to develop a second-language proficiency so I could pursue fieldwork in my future. Within the course, I loved the shift in thinking and learning about Hispanic cultures, which led me to make the decision to take more courses in the department. I eventually shifted my degree to a double major because I wanted to continue to improve my language skills, and develop a better cultural understanding of Hispanic cultures..
What is a typical day for you in your current job?
Currently, I'm wrapping up my Master's degree in Global Health at Duke University in North Carolina. Life as a graduate student is extremely busy but ever changing and always interesting. Within a typical day, I normally attend classes, spend a lot of time at the library and in coffee shops working on my thesis and assignments, work part-time as a teaching assistant for an undergraduate class, and take some time to pursue my volunteer commitments with NGOs including Partners in Health Canada Spark and a Canadian global health mentorship program. My favorite aspect of graduate school has most-definitely been the learning opportunities and the people. The work is a lot more independent and I get to really direct what I'd like to focus on. I've also been really lucky to be surrounded by very motivated and inspiring individuals! Additionally, global health been a great way to bridge the gap between my medical science and Spanish backgrounds and learn how to apply the skills I learned in undergrad in a more pointed manner.
What skills to you find employers are seeking most in your field of work?
As a graduate student in global health who is currently looking towards my next step, I have found that many employers are seeking individuals who are curious, good at working individually and in teams, and have very tangible skills such as quantitative and qualitative research and other language proficiencies. One of the greatest things that my time in Western's Spanish department instilled in me is cultural competency. It is so important in my field to be able to communicate across cultures and understand the histories and backgrounds of the people you are working with to ensure that the interventions you propose make sense culturally for implementation.
Where do you see yourself in ten years and how has your post-secondary experience prepared you?
In ten years, I hope to be pursuing a career working on improving health systems in low-resource settings through policy. It would be especially wonderful to be working on projects associated with Latin American countries, given my undergraduate background! My post-secondary experiences have helped me by giving me the basic tools and knowledge I need to get started on conducting research and developing policies and programs. As a result of my graduate degree, I've also received the opportunity to pursue some cool opportunities such as living in Sri Lanka for 3-months to conduct research and working at the World Health Organization in Geneva for 3-months. The combination of these international experiences have really helped me to better understand how to best work in international settings and be in places that I'm unfamiliar with.
What advice do you have for current A&H students or recent graduates?
The biggest piece of advice I can offer is to follow your passions and say yes to opportunities that interest you, even if you're not sure that they directly relate to what you want to pursue. You never know who you'll get to meet or what types of experiences are ahead of you. The best and only way to find out is to branch out and try new experiences that are outside of your comfort zone and/or field of interest. Also, you don't have to have all the answers right away! I'm a firm believer that if you work hard and dedicate yourself to things that you feel passionate about, you'll end up doing things that will ultimately make you feel happy and fulfilled.
What is your favorite Western memory?
From sophing to the interesting classes and watching sports games at the Spoke, I feel like there are way too many to pick a favorite! One thing that I especially miss though is the feeling of being home when walking around campus, and how you're always bound to run into someone you know, even if you're just making a quick pit-stop at Tim Horton's between classes.