Melina Albanese

University of Toronto
PhD Candidate
Vancouver, Canada
Toronto, Canada
The association between organized activity participation and emotional wellbeing among immigrant-origin and non-immigrant children
Anne Gadermann

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

As a PhD candidate in Epidemiology at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, I spend the majority of my time engaged in research-related activities. A large quantity of my time is devoted to completing my dissertation, including planning the individual studies, conducting analyses using statistical software, and writing up the study rationales and results. I am also a research assistant at the University of Toronto. As a research assistant, I contribute to studies in the area of sexual, maternal, reproductive, and child health. When I am not actively working on research, you can find me engaged in several extracurricular activities. These include volunteering as a mentor for undergraduate and new graduate students through several different programs (including UofT's Student Buddy Program and UBC's Research Experience Program) or editing articles for the University of Toronto Journal of Public Health's blog, The Public Health Corner.

How does your current work relate to your graduate degree?

My Master's degree in Population and Public Health helped me develop key skills (such as scientific writing and data analysis using SAS and R) and relevant knowledge to pursue my PhD in Epidemiology. Working as a research assistant during my Master's degree and being able to participate in two distinct labs at UBC was helpful in expanding my knowledge and experiences in the public health sciences prior to starting my PhD at the University of Toronto. Being actively engaged in research activities beyond my thesis allowed me to gain hands-on experience applying the skills and knowledge learned in the classroom while completing my Master's degree.

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

I really like the flexibility in terms of what I research and that my program is helping me grow as a scientist so that I can continue to develop the skills needed to develop my own program of research in the future. Coming into the program, I was able to identify an area of research that was interesting to me and was able to design the four studies that will comprise my dissertation.

Is your current career path as you originally intended?

Yes, it is.

What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?

My research interests, which were at the intersection of extracurricular activities and child wellbeing, aligned with those of Dr. Anne Gadermann. At UBC, I had access to population-level data from the Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI), which allowed me to study the association between extracurricular activities and child wellbeing for my thesis.

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

I enjoyed the supportive learning environment, which helped me grow as an epidemiologist.

How did the graduate degree at UBC help you achieve your career and/or personal development goals?

My experience in the MSc program in Population and Public Health at UBC gave me the experience I needed to be accepted into the PhD program in Epidemiology at the University of Toronto.

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

Being consistent with completing assignments on time and being willing to put in the work, even when the assignments were challenging. Working as a research assistant while completing my degree also allowed me to publish more while studying, which I believe helped strengthen my application to the University of Toronto's PhD in Epidemiology program.

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

Choose something you are passionate about and get your foot in the door. If possible, volunteer or find a paid position in your area of interest as early as possible to gain experience and determine if you like the job.


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