Leveraging the power of mentorship to open new doors

WISEST Program and Faculty of Nursing supervisors awaken incoming student Ziad Zahoui’s unexpected passion for nursing.

13 February 2020

When high school student Ziad Zahoui applied for the Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science, & Technology (WISEST) Summer Research Program (SRP), he was dismayed to hear male students aren’t placed within the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. 

Instead, participants work as paid research assistants on a project in less traditional fields of study for their gender, which resulted in Zahoui being placed with the Faculty of Nursing.

What initially seemed like a setback transformed into an unexpected opportunity for Zahoui as he discovered an unexpected passion for the profession of Nursing. Without the program’s unique approach, he wouldn’t be starting the first year of his undergraduate education with the Faculty of Nursing in the Fall of 2020.

“It was my change in perception that truly encouraged me to appreciate Nursing as a future career path,” explained Zahoui. “Being surrounded by such passionate individuals and being a part of such an outstanding research team with an amazing initiative drastically changed my outlook on the profession.”

WISEST empowers women and other underrepresented groups to pursue, impact, and succeed in the fields of science, engineering, and technology through the creation of effective programs. The WISEST SRP was created to raise awareness about less conventional fields of study and diverse career options over the course of six weeks in July and August. 

“Having the opportunity to partake in a role that defies stereotypes rather than re-enforcing them is what prompted me to choose the WISEST program,” said Zahoui. 

Students participating in the Summer Research Program have the opportunity to work with top researchers and innovators and become a part of a research team, which is how Zahoui wound up paired with Higinio Fernandez—a PhD nursing student—and Faculty of Nursing Associate Professor and Principal Investigator for the Health and Immigration Policies and Practices (HIPP) Research Program Dr. Bukola Salami. These influential mentors demonstrated the dedication, passion, and hard work that goes into research while preparing Zahoui for his transition from high school to university. 

“Bukola ensures her students are aware of the various resources and opportunities available within the Faculty of Nursing. Because of her, I completed a certified online research ethics course; I explored the Nursing Simulation Centre; I learned how to use NVIVO, a data-organizing software; and I participated in a graduate research course.” 

Zahoui stumbled upon his first research gap while conducting a scoping review on African immigrant children with sickle cell disease. In the course of the review, Zahoui identified that only seven out of the numerous studies on this research area fit the criteria as academically relevant, and the majority of them lacked a sufficient sample size to draw any conclusions from. 

As an immigrant himself, Zahoui has first-hand experience that suggests immigration is an overlooked research area. Through Fernandez and Salami’s mentorship and exposure to research that’s making life better for immigrants and addressing gaps in the system, Zahoui hopes to one day narrow the research gaps that currently exist in this research area.