Adrianna Spyker

Fraser Health Authority
Community Health Specialist
Surrey, Canada
Faculty of Arts

What are your main responsibilities or activities in your current position?

As a Community Health Specialist, my role is to act a liaison of the Health Authority for community partners and organizations. Currently our team has been redeployed to support the covid-19 pandemic response internally and for our community partners. More formally for my role, I conduct research, analyze and apply data to prepare reports, provide presentations on practice and evidence to inform local government and Fraser Health on community health initiatives. I work to develop and maintain a strong network of local government, school district and community leaders, as well as, service providers in order to build relationships, strengthen community connections and promote cooperative approaches to current and emerging issues. I support and participate in planning and evaluation, needs assessments, project development and implementation, resource development and procurement and other requests from local government, community groups to strengthen community capacity. In this role, I act as a resource to students, volunteers and contractors by responding to questions, providing advice and guidance on practice, organizing and/or evaluating activities or adherence to action plans.

How does your current work relate to your graduate degree?

I have the opportunity to support policy and program development/evaluation and provide insight for decision-making. The skills, knowledge and tools I have learned from graduate school directly apply to my current work. One of the key things that I gained from graduate school that has helped me in my current work was the direct experience working with multiple stakeholders with varying interests, perspectives and ideas. We had the opportunity to be challenged in finding ways to mitigate difficult situations which required informed decision-making and strategies to navigate stakeholders. Another key thing that graduate school provided me with was the opportunity take knowledge or information from a broad level and focus in on the key topics or concepts. We were able to become better informed experts in our topic areas of choice. Graduate school was a valuable opportunity to share and discuss different perspectives for multiple issues and challenges to real world events and situations. More importantly, it was an opportunity got "me" to be challenged in my own thinking and to grow as a persona and an academic.

What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?

I will respond for general and then current pandemic: a) I enjoy my current position for how we are able to work with multiple partners on various issues. The work is dynamic and I like an environment that is changing and different each day. There is a lot of autonomy to the work and we are using are expertise to support our partners and internal work. I enjoy the challenge of working with different stakeholders. b) Currently for pandemic response, it has been challenging because there are many needs and issues that were either created as a result of the pandemic or pre-existing gaps that have been highlighted as a result of the pandemic. I like how our team and how as individuals, we are all supported by our leadership and that the value of our work is recognized. We are all collectively supporting one another while we work to support the needs of our communities and partners.

Is your current career path as you originally intended?

I was open-minded to a career path, however, I wanted to be doing something that was impactful, meaningful and aligned with my values. Following graduate school, I wanted to be open to the possibilities while looking for something that aligned with policy and change.

What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?

UBC is a reputable institution that has not only many great programs but "produces" many great leaders and scholars. I wanted to be part of an institution with high quality of academics and departments. It was important for me to attend a university that openly made a stance of certain social issues that were also important to me. I wanted to feel safe, valued and recognized as a student.

What did you enjoy the most about your time as a graduate student at UBC?

I enjoyed the program structure and the direct support of professors. My work and research had actually support and attention. I felt that this helped make the learning experience more meaningful.

What key things did you do, or what attitudes or approaches did you have, that contributed to your success?

I entered my career very open-minded and willing. I asked a lot of questions, never assumed things I was not clear on, and did my own additional research or training. I identified key people that I wanted to work with and people who I admired. I looked up to their leadership and ways they approached their work.

What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?

When you exit graduate school, remember that you still do not know everything and there is lots to learn. Remember to enter your career humbly and willing to learn. Teamwork and collaboration are key aspects in many work environments and it is important to cooperate with others. Also, take as many training and courses for your field available.

Did you have any breaks in your education?

I never had any breaks during my graduate degree. I had a break during and following my undergrad after the unexpected death of my mother. This both hindered and motivated me for my career progression.

What challenges did you face in your graduate degree, or in launching your career?

Time management was sometimes difficult while in going through my graduate degree. While in school full-time, I was also working and driving up to campus. While searching and applying for a new job, I revised my resume a few times and rewrote multiple cover letters. It helped to have professional resume/cover letter supports. I think that this helped me in getting noticed for an interview. I would have done that sooner.


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