Health Studies graduates have interesting lives!  Here, we profile some of our most recent alumni…

Kandace Ryckman  
(Class of 2015)

Kandace RyckmanMy choice to go into the Health Studies Program was the best decision I made as an undergraduate. In the program I was able to connect with peers and faculty who had similar interests and get more involved on campus through the Health Studies Student Union and working on Perspectives, the peer-reviewed journal. Most importantly, the instructors in the program pushed me to think critically about how we can improve health by addressing the social, political and economic determinants. 

The experiences and skills I gained in the program have been invaluable in my current graduate studies as Masters of Public Health (Epidemiology) student at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. Currently, I am working at The Hospital for Sick Children on research projects that focus on the built environment in the context of injury prevention. Specifically, my research teams looks at how things like walkability, bike lanes and playground equipment impact injuries and fatalities in children. After graduation I would love to work in a public health unit, using social epidemiology methods to study income inequality and health disparities.

Dominique Claybo
(Class of 2015)

Right after classes finished in the winter semester of 2015, I finalized a poster presentation of the thesis I had worked on for the Health Studies Specialist program. The title of my project was “Associations Between Motivations, Online Partner-Seeking Technologies, Misrepresentation, and HIV-Risk Behaviours Among Young Men Who Have Sex With Men”. I presented the poster at the Canadian Conference of HIV/AIDS research; an incredible opportunity to meet established academics in the HIV research community.

A few weeks after that, along with another former Health Studies student, Vikki Schembri, I flew out to Victoria, B.C. with our bicycles and we’re currently touring the country on our way back to Toronto. In addition to opening professional doors, the Health Studies program has helped me create a number of incredible friendships!

Josephine Tong
(Class of 2015)

Josephine TongAfter graduating from the Health Studies Program at the University of Toronto, I decided to pursue my Masters of Science in Social Work. I chose this career path because after learning about the social determinants of health I wanted to do field work in order to better comprehend these social determinants to serve vulnerable populations. My interest lies within the migrant, refugee and asylum seeking communities in the globalizing world that we live in. This past year at Columbia I interned as a school social worker counselling children on behavioural issues and creating parent workshops so that barriers in education could be eliminated for Chinese immigrant communities in understanding the U.S. education system. Next year I will have the privilege of being a hospital social worker at Elmhurst hospital working under the Department of Emergency Medicine in the Libertas Human Rights Centre. I will be working with immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, providing one-on-one or group counselling and conducting psychosocial assessments. Currently this summer I am interning at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Head Quarters situated in Geneva, creating interactive maps for migrant health projects and conducting literature reviews on the intersection between sanitation and shelter. Simultaneously, I am taking a Global Policy Governance course in Public Health with the Duke Fellowship Program with topics ranging from innovation and access to health technologies to challenges to delivering on access to medicine. The Health Studies Program has greatly fuelled my interest in merging field work and policy level work on social issues. I continually hope that through serving populations on these two levels will people of all race, gender and age be entitled the right to a complete physical, social and mental well being.

Ariel Charney
(Class of 2015)

Ariel CharneyHealth Studies played a pivotal role in shaping my interests and career goals. The program exposed me to how broader societal factors impact population health and has pushed me to pursue a career committed to addressing social challenges of our time, such as growing inequality and climate change. Since graduating, I have been working as a communications consultant at the World Health Organization (WHO) in the Department of Public health, environmental and social determinants of health where I previously interned, an opportunity I credit to this program. Exiting academia into the corridors of an international organization in Geneva has been an eye-opening and challenging experience. In my job, I helped write content for a new website on the health co-benefits of climate change mitigation. I witnessed how policy was developed and the constraints placed on those trying to implement positive change, especially in regards to curbing air pollution and climate change. The most rewarding aspect of working at the WHO has been the incredible people I met on a daily basis, from dedicated interns to senior staff. The Health Studies Program has provided me with the necessary foundation for what I hope will be a future career in global health.

Are you a graduate of Health Studies? Want to tell your story? Contact and let us know what you are up to!