by submitted 2018
“I love working alongside other people who are like-minded, with similar passions,” Stephanie Booth says. “I feel driven to give back to the communities that I am connected to.”
Growing up in Strathmore, AB, Stephanie volunteered on her high school’s leadership committee and with the local Leo Club (an affiliate of the Lions Club). This work ignited a passion for volunteerism that has shaped Stephanie’s academic journey and her career.
When Stephanie enrolled in Augustana’s science program, she set aside time in her schedule for volunteer work. Off campus, she volunteered at St. Mary’s Hospital, and she helped with the Science Olympics in local elementary schools.
On campus, she volunteered with the Science Club and with Augustana Queers and Allies (AQUA). “It was the first time I was exposed to the intricacies and struggles of LGBTQ+ people who were working to increase awareness of social issues. It led me to pursue more volunteer opportunities in this community.”
After graduating in 2014, Stephanie enrolled in the Master of Public Health—Epidemiology program in the U of A’s School of Public Health. There, she served on the faculty’s students’ association and on its Diversity and Inclusion Action Group, which organized a Pride Week event and recommended initiatives in diversity and inclusion. She also served on the Faculty of Medicine’s Sexual and Gender Advocacy Initiative, which aims to increase healthcare providers’ knowledge of LGBTQ+ health and puts on an annual LGBTQ+ health conference. “I realized how often people in the LGBTQ+ community face health disparities,” she recalls, “which began to mould my academic interests.”
Stephanie’s dedication to volunteerism on campus earned her a Diversity Champion Award and a Graduate Student Service Award. With her help, the groups that she volunteered with won the U of A’s Community Connections Awards and Alberta Health Services program awards.
Stephanie graduated in 2017. Now a policy analyst for Alberta’s Ministry of Health, she works on opioid- and fentanyl-related policies. It’s a busy job, especially in the context of Alberta’s current opioid crisis.
But Stephanie still makes time for volunteer work. She lectures about LGBTQ+ health and epidemiology on campuses across the province, and volunteers at Camp Fyrefly, a leadership and arts camp for LGBTQ+ youth. She is a committee member at the Pride Center of Edmonton and a member of Next Up: Edmonton, a social and environmental justice leadership program for young adults.
Stephanie’s volunteerism continues to shape her goals. “Someday, I’d love to get a PhD in epidemiology, focusing on LGBTQ+ health,” she says. “My dream job would be doing LGBTQ+ epidemiology and policy work to support and advocate for the health of the LGBTQ+ community.”
Stephanie’s career and academics and volunteering are inextricably intertwined. Each informs the others. She reflects, “Volunteering is important to me because I believe in the importance of community and community health as a center to a healthy life.”