Graduates of Public Health - Fall 2019

Emily Maplethorpe

Emily Maplethorpe, MSc in epidemiology

Emily Maplethorpe is graduating with her master of science degree in epidemiology. She has just started medical school at the University of Alberta. She believes that her public health background will certainly complement her medical studies and inform her future work as a physician. In the future, she hopes to work in a rural or regional centre and support community oriented primary care, research and advocacy.

We asked Emily what advice she has for incoming students and to tell us about the people or experience that had the greatest impact on her while she was completing her program. Here's what she told us:

"It is totally okay (and normal!) to feel overwhelmed or lost sometimes in your studies or research. A graduate degree is a learning process, and it is definitely not easy. There are work and decisions that may feel daunting, but be confident your ability to work through those problems and obstacles. On that note-don't be afraid to ask for help or guidance."

My term on the School of Public Health Students' Association was a fantastic experience, and I was very lucky to have worked with an incredible group of individuals. I recognized how effectively a team can solve problems and innovate if they work and think well together. More personally, they motivated and inspired me to actively inform myself about pertinent issues, be a more effective advocate and think critically about the world around me."

Salimah Valiani, MPH in health promotion

Salimah Valiani is graduating with her master of public health degree in health promotion. Since completing her program, she has started a position as the community engagement coordinator for the Housing for Health Project in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta.

The Housing for Health Project explores how housing developments, including the surrounding community neighbourhoods, can be improved to better support health and well-being. In the future, Salimah hopes to continue to support the creation of communities and public spaces that are well designed so that people can be physically active, access healthy food and be socially connected to their neighbours. In other words, creating spaces where 'the healthy choice is the easy choice.'

We asked Salimah why public health is so important. Here's what she said:

"In public health and health promotion, we examine the social determinants of health and the huge impacts that they have on our health. Things like housing and physical environments, food insecurity, income level and social support networks can all determine whether people will be healthy or ill. When the public talks about health, a lot of the discussion still focuses on health care.

Public health is so important because it considers the wide range of systemic factors and socioeconomic conditions which shape health-really, the root causes of health. While tackling the social determinants of health is difficult, it is also vital to improving population health and reducing health inequalities."

Jamie Boisvenue, MSc in epidemiology

Jamie Boisvenue graduated with his master of science degree in epidemiology. His philosophy is "see one, do one, teach one," so he plans to continue his education with a doctor of philosophy program in epidemiology at the School of Public Health. This will allow him to share the knowledge and experience that he has gained with his colleagues.

We asked Jamie to tell us about one of his biggest 'ah ha' moments while at the School. This is what he said:

"The biggest moment in my learning was the realization that everything has bias to a certain degree, that we can never really eliminate bias and that a critical part of any research study design is reducing that bias."

Jamie also added advice for incoming and current students:

"Throughout your graduate program, there will be trying times. However, you are standing on the shoulders of giants in the School of Public Health, all of whom want to see you succeed and will help you achieve your goals."

Shehreen Hossain, MPH in epidemiology

Shehreen Hossain graduated with her master of public health degree in epidemiology. Through her program, she learned to be more adaptive to new ideas and situations. This helped her face new challenges with a positive attitude, and learn and grow.

In the future, she wants to become an epidemiologist. She hopes that her epidemiological work will have real-world impacts in preventing diseases and building healthier and happier communities for everyone.

We asked Shehreen to tell us why she chose to pursue the field of public health and why it is important. This is what she said:

"My interest in public health developed while I was a physician in Bangladesh. I had to manage sufferers of a mass cholera outbreak. That outbreak could have been prevented by simply ensuring provision of safe water, proper sanitation and food safety in the community.

I realized that neither clinical nor curative medicine disbursed from the four walls of a hospital can make me understand the background of interactions leading to a disease nor provide me the necessary answers to prevent it. Increasing the focus on public health will help improve health, quality of life and prosperity in the communities."

Laura Mullaly, MPH in health promotion

Laura Mullaly graduated with her master of public health degree in health promotion through our online distance program. She plans to continue to work in prevention and promotion at the Mental Health Commission of Canada in Ottawa, Ontario to advance the mental health of Canadians.

We asked Laura to tell us why she chose the School of Public Health. Here's what she told us:

"When I decided to go back to school, I knew I wanted to continue working full-time while studying part-time. The University of Alberta's master of public health in health promotion program was well established, online and flexible, allowing me to continue to work and live in Ottawa while studying."