This week more than 4,800 graduate and undergraduate students from all three campuses are receiving their degrees during the University of Toronto's fall convocation. Among them are students from the health sciences in the Faculty of Medicine, whose ceremony was held on Tuesday. Julia Soudat interviewed several of them. Here are some highlights:
Celine Nathoo, master of science in physical therapy (above)
"I am most interested in neurorehabilitation. When I was 19, my dad had a stroke. After seeing how big of a role his allied health team played in his recovery, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in physiotherapy. While growing up as a competitive figure skater, I had some experience seeing a physiotherapist in a private clinic, but it wasn’t until my dad has his stroke that I realized how many other settings physiotherapists could work in and have an impact.
"I hope that I can gain work experience and eventually do my PhD in stroke rehabilitation.
Advice for new and incoming students: "Soak in every minute of the program because the two years goes by quicker than you think. Take advantage of your internships, don’t worry about making mistakes."
Tyler Saumur, master of science from the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute
“I have always had an interest in the human body, especially in the context of enhancing task performance. During my undergraduate degree in kinesiology, I began to develop a passion for studying the brain. In parallel, a friend of mine had experienced a stroke. Being able to understand the changes and rehabilitation that she was undergoing with the biological context that I was studying in tandem, further accentuated my desire to pursue movement and brain sciences.
"My research focuses on understanding how the body prepares for unpredictability in the environment. Specifically, it is centered on changes in the sensitivity of the central nervous system during preparation for movements that need to be performed rapidly and correctly."
Advice for new and incoming students: "Embrace the experience, get involved, and find time to enjoy yourself."
Mhairi Kay, master of science in occupational therapy
"My research interests are mostly focused on mental health. I am interested in the benefits that can be accrued from participation in alternative, holistic, and harm-reduction focused approaches to wellness. I believe that one of the critical components of mental health recovery is helping people redefine their identity apart from their current struggle or diagnoses and facilitating participation in meaningful activity. My interest in this field was sparked through the work that I do for a non-profit organization in Toronto called Young Ones that provides free treatment and support to youth with mental health and addiction issues. I am currently the vice-chair of the board, the education program co-ordinator, and a public educator; I have worked closely with youth who are struggling with their mental health and I’m passionate about advocating for those in need."
Advice for new and incoming students: "Take advantage of all the learning opportunities you are presented with during your time at U of T. So, while it may not seem relevant, desirable, or even feasible at the time – ask lots of questions, talk to the instructors, clinicians and guest presenters, make connections, join the school committees, and go to the optional workshops – it will make all the difference when it comes time to graduate and to start your own."
Jaclyn Dawe, master of science in rehabilitation sciences
"My clinical background as an occupational therapist and my interest in neurodevelopment and neurologically based recovery led me to pursue research in rehabilitation sciences. I was interested in the opportunity to contribute to the development of evidence-based clinical tools for assessment and intervention with pediatric neuro-motor disorders."
Advice to new and incoming students: "To new students, my advice is to start with (and work to maintain) an openness – to making new friends and connections, and to new experiences and perspectives. U of T has so many great opportunities for extra-curricular learning, inter-cultural sharing, recreation and leisure, and personal and professional development. Seek out the resources and communities on campus that resonate with you, and build up the courage to explore and maybe even dive in."
Amy Verschuuren, master of health science in speech-language pathology
"A lot of my classmates and colleagues have had personal experiences receiving speech-language pathology services, whether for themselves, their grandparents, or their siblings. My story is much less interesting. A high school teacher (presumably whose child was receiving speech therapy at the time) mentioned the career to me in the 10th grade. At the time, I had never heard of speech-language pathology before. So I went home and did some research, and ended up falling in love with the idea of it. When I began volunteering a couple years later, I discovered I also loved the practice of it."
Advice to new and incoming students: I think it's really important to have a "big picture" attitude, especially in health care. The reason I got into this field is to help people. And I think that can be said for most, if not all, students in the Faculty of Medicine. So, my advice would be not to fret about getting the highest marks or knowing every single detail about every single theory (but good for you if you do). Study to understand, not to know. Learn to be a good problem-solver, not an information-regurgitator."