Celebrating outstanding graduate Peace Omodele for her impactful contributions to community health

A School of Public Health graduate with a passion for community health shares her student experience from Nigeria to Canada and her impact on public health initiatives.

Jennifer Fitzgerald - 28 May 2024

As the School of Public Health gears up for its 2024 spring convocation, we’re proud to spotlight graduate Peace Omodele. Armed with a master of science in health promotion and socio-behavioural sciences, she has overcome challenges to excel in serving her community with the Canadian government and non-profits.

Originally from Nigeria, where she completed an undergraduate degree in public health, Omodele has always been driven by a commitment to health care. “My mother was a nurse, so she provided me with early exposure to the health-care environment, instilling in me the importance of health promotion from a young age,” says Omodele. 

This foundation led her to pursue advanced studies in Canada, bringing a wealth of experience and a unique perspective to the University of Alberta. But making that transition wasn’t without its challenges. “The first semester was all about acclimatizing and adjusting, especially as an international student.”

Master's program to public service

During her time in the master's program, Omodele engaged in an impactful co-op experience with Health Canada, where she worked as a policy analyst focusing on outreach, education and stakeholder engagement. “My role was pivotal in developing communication strategies for consumer products associated with health risks, where I had to translate complex health data into actionable, community-centred strategies,” says Omodele.

“I was involved in extensive research, designing outreach materials, developing key messaging, dissemination plans and an engagement plan for the stakeholder analysis,” she says. "I value knowing that my work contributes to public health and involves creating practical materials that are actually used to increase community awareness."

Omodele highlights the crucial role of identifying the target audience and their pain points when tackling the challenge of raising awareness about various safety and usage issues of consumer products. “It's essential to empathize with the audience and consider how they will perceive the information. Will it catch their attention? Evoke a sense of urgency or concern? These perspectives guide the formation of effective communication strategies for diverse populations.”

Omodele says one of her biggest challenges was adapting to the extensive procedures and protocols within the government sector — a stark contrast to her prior experiences in the non-profit world.  “It was a big transition, but provided me valuable exposure and learning opportunities, particularly from my manager, enriching my understanding of public health communications in Canada.”

Looking ahead, Omodele has accepted a role as a communications and engagement advisor with a non-profit organization, where she plans to continue leveraging her education and co-op experiences to drive health-communication initiatives. “My long-term goal in public health is to become an expert in health communication, improving access to accurate health information and combating misinformation.”

Words of wisdom for future students 

Omodele’s advice to current and future students is to “embrace every learning opportunity, seek internships that offer practical experience, and never underestimate the power of networking.” 

“Being receptive to feedback is essential for skill development, even if it's challenging at times,” she says. 

Omodele advises not to fear trying and failing: “Persistence is crucial, especially when facing rejections; it's about securing that one ‘yes’ that can change everything!”

“It took a lot of ‘nos’ for me to get here, a lot of tears, sleepless nights and so many applications,” she says. “It was really hard landing my first role in Canada and I’m grateful that the executive director at Atlantic Coastal Action Program took a chance on me, as did my preceptor at Health Canada.”

Ambitions and reflections

Fuelled by grand ambitions, Omodele says, I aspire to head a non-profit in the future, aiming to lead initiatives that improve community outcomes and extend my efforts into global health and development. 

“My goal is to become an expert who can advise on educational programs, system improvements, and increasing healthcare information accessibility. Ultimately, I want to be able to improve health outcomes and empower communities through effective communication strategies.”

A rigorous master's program paves way for early career achievements

Omodele believes her progress in public health is greatly influenced by her master's program and the inspiration provided by her professors.

“The program was rigorous and comprehensive, providing a strong foundation across various public health sectors, even outside my specialization in promotion and communications,” she says.

“The professors were exceptionally supportive in all my courses. Interestingly, I could collaborate with faculty from other disciplines, which has led to lasting professional relationships.”

Perseverance and dedication bring success

Despite the stress and hard work, she says the experience was incredibly valuable and it paid off — “I received two job offers even before graduating!”

As Omodele gears up for her graduation in June, she looks back at the challenges she overcame and what keeps her going. "There were so many days I felt like quitting, but my resilience, my faith, and my family's encouragement that I can tackle difficult challenges kept me pushing forward."