By: Monica Sourial

As we start getting into the summer, I have some time to reflect on where I was exactly 1 year ago. I had just finished my undergrad degree at Carleton, and I had no idea what I was going to do next. I had always thought that I would end up in medical school since I always had my mind set on becoming a doctor. I hadn’t applied to any other programs so when I didn’t get accepted I felt a complete lack of direction. As soon as graduation rolled around, I quickly started to feel the pressure of everyone around me asking; what next? And my answer to that question was always ‘I don’t know’.

Kakabeka Falls, Thunder Bay

While experiencing these adversities, it brought me back to how I felt when I first moved to Canada at the age of 12. Although I had my parents with me, it was definitely challenging to adapt to a new way of living. As an introvert one of the most difficult things I encountered was making friends. It took me some time to adjust and get connected but once I did I started to enjoy life. I started to keep busy through volunteering and one of the places where I still volunteer lets me explore the country going from one province to the next. The reason I tell you this story is to say that I have been through hardship before and I was able to find my way through it. But to me it felt like this situation was putting me under through immense pressure.

Greenwich Dunes National Park, PEI

At the time, all I knew was that I wanted to stay in the healthcare field, so I started to think about some of the courses that I had taken which I really enjoyed. One of those courses was Regulatory Issues and Human Health, in this course I was introduced to the process of policy making and how healthcare functions. It was the first time that I was exposed to a completely different side of healthcare. And I was immediately intrigued and wanted to learn more about how policies are made, what steps are taken into consideration before coming to a decision. I took some time to think about what my next step would be, so I started to research graduate programs relating to policy.

At this point, it was already nearing the end of June and many of the programs I was inquiring about had already closed their application process. So I was looking at programs that would be starting in the winter or spring of 2019 and once again I felt like I was going nowhere as I wanted to start graduate school right away. Luckily for me, I was able to submit a late application to the Health, Science, Technology and Policy (HSTP) Program at Carleton with the help of a few professors. Since starting the HSTP program, things started to fall into place. I joined Dr. Peter’s lab – the Spatial Determinants of Health lab to focus my research on rural health. I have also just started a summer position at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) where I get to learn more about the different topics and issues we discuss in class and apply my knowledge through the work I do. And I can’t wait to see where this road will take me next.