Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
During my masters degree I was able to visit the Bern University of Applied Sciences in Switzerland with a Michael Smith Foreign Study Award. I was able to work with Dr. Eva Cignacco Müller on a community-based participatory research project that explored the lived experiences of refugee and asylum-seeking women and their access to contraception and abortion care. The differences between refugee and Swiss-born women were stark, with refugee women reporting higher rates of unplanned pregnancy and abortion, which was directly tied with their limited access to health insurance and the cost of contraceptives. I recognized this as an area that was lacking in the field of migration health. This pushed me to shift my work to focus on the impact of immigration and health policy on the sexual and reproductive health outcomes of migrant women and pursue a PhD in public health.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
The Faculty of Medicine at UBC is internationally-renowned and has a significant emphasis on sexual and reproductive health which is extended by its connections to the BC Centre for Disease Control and BC Centre on Substance Use. I have been lucky enough to work with two UBC research labs: the Contraception and Abortion Research Team and the Centre for Gender and Sexual Health Equity. Both centres have large programs of research and prioritize sharing findings with policy-makers and community. I am excited to continue working at the CGSHE for my PhD with my fabulous supervisors, whose programs of research fit well with my academic goals.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
The School of Population and Public Health boasts world-class academic research with a diverse and interdisciplinary faculty. The PhD program offers a wide array of courses in global health, health policy, and epidemiology. It also has a great cohort of students and regular opportunities to share and discuss our ongoing research projects.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to. I love the close proximity to the mountains and the ocean, which is where I spend most of my weekends either hiking, climbing, or rock climbing. UBC is also located right beside Pacific Spirit Park, which hosts an old growth forest and is walkable from campus!
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
My masters degree at Dalhousie University in Health Promotion has really prepared me to start this next chapter. This program really emphasized the importance of the social determinants of health and the need to critically understand the ways in which systems of power and oppressions shape human health. I am excited to continue to examine how social facets shape the health of migrant families, focusing on determinants like systemic racism and xenophobia. My amazing masters supervisor and other incredible mentors really pushed me to employ critical frameworks for analysis, like Critical Race Theory, Abolition Feminism, and Reproductive Justice, that I plan to carry forward into my dissertation work.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Say yes to new opportunities, even if they're outside your comfort zone! And your cohort and lab members are your biggest supporters. Take the time to get to know them and don't be afraid to ask them for advice or guidance.