Convocation ‘23: Cindy Srinivasan, BSc Pharmacology Specialization

Donna McKinnon - 8 June 2023


As a pharmacology student and as the daughter of a healthcare worker, Cindy Srinivasan is sensitive to signs of burnout. Though not inevitable, burnout is always a risk, and it has motivated Cindy to volunteer with several campus outreach programs even as she herself was dealing with mental and physical exhaustion in the third year of her program.  

“Like many students, balancing part-time work, full-time school and taking care of others and myself felt impossible,” she says. “But through this time I learned to reset my boundaries, know when to say 'no' and really prioritized my well-being.”

Empathy has always been a primary driver in Cindy’s life, informing her choice of program and her commitment to raising awareness of mental health issues on and off campus, which includes volunteer positions with the Peer Support Centre, the Raising Hopes Student Initiative (which she co-founded), the Senior Science Mentor program and her long-standing role as a conversation circle teacher with the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers.

In 2022, Cindy was recognized with the Cristal Mar Memorial Award for her contributions to the greater campus community while demonstrating compassion towards fellow students.

This fall, she will begin a medical degree at the University of Alberta. 

Congratulations Cindy!

What led you to choose your current area of study, and why the U of A for your studies?

I've been in Edmonton for a decade now so I wanted to go to a school where I can still be close to my supportive family and friends. The campus is beautiful and there are tons of leadership and research opportunities here — which I've been really grateful to be involved in throughout my undergrad. After a year of general sciences, I switched into pharmacology after learning about the interdisciplinary nature of the program and how cool it would be to know more about drugs!

What is one of your favourite memories from your time at the U of A?

It's the simple things for me like spending time with friends on campus. We would always try to find a study room in ECHA every day to attempt to study, but mostly just chat and grab lunch.

Tell us about your favourite professor and/or class.

My favourite prof is Yazid Al Hamarneh who for the first time was teaching a 400-level clinical pharmacology class. This class was a great opportunity to apply what I've learned into the real world. Plus, Yazid really took the time to get to know each of us and would treat us with donuts and funny TikToks.

Did you take on any leadership roles while you were a student? If so, please share your experiences.

Over the last four years I've been able to grow as a student leader and dive into my passions of mental health and advocacy. After seeing pandemic burnout in my mother and her nurse colleagues, I was motivated to found the Raising Hopes Student Initiative. We collaborate with local hospitals to support the well-being of health care workers and patients through small acts of kindness while raising awareness on campus about health care challenges. I've also been a part of the Centre for Autism Students' Association since my first year and have planned events and conferences to create an inclusive community for neurodiversity. And I'm really grateful to be able to support students on campus by volunteering as a supportive listener and an outreach-promotion team lead at the Peer Support Centre as well as as Senior Science Mentor

Did you face any significant obstacles or challenges during your program, and if so, how did you respond?

Like many students, I experienced a really difficult period of burnout in my third year. Balancing part-time work, full-time school and taking care of others and myself felt impossible. But through this time I learned to reset my boundaries, know when to say 'no' and really prioritized my well-being.

What advice do you have for current and future students?

1) Find your passion! There are so many things to try and new people to meet. Whether that be research, a student group, or finding a community that you resonate with — all of them bring connection and growth.

2) Remember that you are not just a student. Your identity is so much more than school so find what makes you happy!

3) Also, there’s a much larger & quicker Tim Hortons in the Katz building :)

How do you plan on celebrating convocation?

I'm celebrating by hosting a graduation party and going to some music festivals over the summer!

What's next after graduation?

I'm really excited to be back in the fall for medical school at the U of A and look forward to travelling some more!