Graduate Student Profiles

2016-2017, MA Graduate Students

MA Graduate Students in the Health Policy and Equity Program at York University, 2016-2017

My name is Marwa Ahmed and I have a Bachelors of Applied Science degree in Public Health from Ryerson University. My interest in health equity and policy was sparked through my volunteer and work experiences in health education and equity locally and internationally in Kenya and Somalia. Through the various health disparities I witnessed, I started questioning the policies that we currently have in place and their effectiveness. In my current position at a mental health association, my role focuses on facilitating workshops on the impacts of migration, racism and other forms of discrimination on the mental health of newcomers, refugees and overall immigrant populations. With that being said, my interest lies in exploring the mental health of marginalized communities and examining whether our health services and policies are equitable and sufficient to meet their needs.

My name is Gurkirat Batth and I have just completed a Bachelor’s degree in Health Studies with a specialization in Health Policy at York University. Before starting my undergraduate experience at York, I saw health through a very epidemiological lens. However, over the four years of Health Studies at York University, I learned that health is product of multiple social determinants of health. Through my volunteer experience with the City of Brampton and my work with Deputy Leader of ONDP, I developed a keen interest in policy, specifically in health policy. I found health policy to be very interesting as everything and anything in Public health can be tracked back to a particular policy. Health outcomes can be enhanced and inequalities can be battled via planning and implementation of appropriate health policies. This drove me to study health policy in depth and to seek admission to be a student of this program. I look forward to meeting everyone in September and discussing health policies for a more equitable future for our healthcare system!

My name is Kim Campbell and I have an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from York University. Over the past few years, I have developed a keen interest in mental health. My research interests consist of Canadian healthcare funding, more specifically, the amount of funding allocated to mental health services, as well as the effectiveness and efficiency of current Canadian mental health policies with regard to individuals affected by mental illness. I am looking forward to meeting everyone in September.

My name is Gurpreet Karir and I am a Health Promoter at a community health centre in Toronto.  My work focuses on health equity, inclusion and meaningful community engagement, particularly with newcomer and immigrant populations.   My academic interest lies in examining the underlying social causes of health inequity and examining public policy that will support equitable outcomes and health access for all.

My name is Jennifer McDonald and I have two undergraduate degrees, both from York University. My first degree was a Bachelor of Arts in Social Science and the second degree was a Bachelor of Health Studies which lead me to an interest in health policy and clinical healthcare. After spending time at the World Health Assembly in Geneva in May 2016 and immersing myself in WHO culture and planning, my MA focus has since shifted to global and national sustainable action in social development in order to improve health and health equity - particularly for women - and by looking through the lens of health being a human right. I look forward to meeting everyone and to the academic challenges that come our way this year.

My name is Faisal Ali Mohamed. I have completed the General Honours Bachelor of Health Studies degree at York University. In the past, I have participated in cooperative education with the William Osler Health System. During the program, I have learned more about how the components of a health care system function, more specifically in relation to hospitals and their role in this system. My interests in biology and environmental sciences had initially prompted me to go focus towards a career in clinical medicine. However, upon discovering research studies conducted on the social determinants of health, it made me realize that policy changes can be effective at changing the health care landscape and even addressing medical conditions that are exacerbated by the SDOH. I am quite interested to apply the social determinants of health framework to studying countries within the ASEAN economic bloc. I am intrigued at how new policies will be formed to improve the health care systems (and in turn, health status) within this set of nations which has been seeing economic growth since the 1980s and has been projected to continue to see steady growth in the foreseeable future. I am definitely looking forward to meeting everyone in September.

My name is Setareh Nourani and I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a minor in Health and Society from the University of British Columbia. My motivation for pursuing health policy is rooted in my personal experience with a chronic illness and working in a healthcare setting during my undergraduate degree. Since my graduation, I have worked in the research areas of social support, early childhood development, as well as health, behaviour, and experienced support/services among a population of at risk children. During this next year at York University, I hope to expand my areas of expertise to include the design and delivery of community health care services for vulnerable populations, focusing on social determinants of chronic illness. I look forward to meeting you all in September.

My name is Mariana Astrid Nunez Silva. My life experience has been enriched through my academic endeavors as a cultural anthropologist and Latin-americanist. In 2012 I was invited to travel to Chiapas, México to experience indigenous governance and social resistance with the Zapatistas. As part of the Co-op program at the University of Victoria I had the opportunity to conduct research at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, where I researched complex land tenure conflicts in the Lacandon Jungle in Chiapas, México. Land tenancy topics soon led me to conduct research on the impacts of neoliberal policies such as NAFTA has had in regards to inequalities that expand beyond national borders. Lately I have been working with Seasonal Agricultural Workers from México coming into Canada, in particular to Vancouver Island in B.C. This has led me to question the policies surrounding their stay here, such as health access, dignified housing, and their inclusion/social integration into the communities in which they reside here in Canada as well as in México, among other issues arising from impermanent labour and citizenship status.

My name is Yemisi Onilude. I completed my Bachelor of Health Studies degree, specialized honours in Health Management at York University in the winter 2016. My interest in Health Policy research prompted me to apply for the MA Health Policy and Equity. My graduate research broad objective is to analyse the health care and funding in Ontario taking into consideration the perceptions of health care providers in Toronto and government policies in delivery of health care services. I am looking forward to meeting everyone in September.

My name is Luke Power and I am an international student from London, England. I have recently acquired a first class BA Hons in Social Sciences from Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland. Throughout my time at this institution, I have developed a portfolio of both theoretically and empirically grounded understandings which have assisted me in cultivating a critical perspective of the social environment. Furthermore, as the BA in Social Sciences is a multidisciplinary program I have been able to draw on a plethora of academic perspectives in an attempt to explicate specific, and general, social phenomenon. An investigatory focus that I am exceedingly interested in, due to my personal and academic/research experience, is related to social exclusion/marginality, its consequential impacts on the social agent and the role which politics/policy plays in promoting equity. I have both worked within and researched the experience of those in mental health/learning disability service and the structural arrangements which constitute various historical periods. I am extremely excited to examine the particularities of Canadian health care provisioning and how this is constituted within and through both a national and international framework. Can’t wait to meet you all.

My name is Mylini Saposan. My interests in medicine guided my decision to major in neuroscience and human biology in undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto. Although I enjoyed my work in biology, I also felt driven to seek out courses facilitating more critical and reflective thinking which led me to discover and develop a profound interest in cultural anthropology, my minor. My coursework in cultural anthropology encouraged me to think deeply and critically about various sociological and anthropological topics and how such factors had an influence in shaping all aspects of society including our health infrastructures. This in combination with my extensive experience volunteering in the community in health have made me realize that I want to be in a position where I am able to take action to facilitate change for greater quality of health. My research interests lie in global health and I seek to learn how I can play a role in developing sustainable interventions designed to overcome common problems to accessible, affordable and quality care in disadvantaged populations.

My name is Shivarni Singh and I completed my Honours Bachelors of Science degree, with a major in human biology and minors in French and psychology, from the University of Toronto. I have always been deeply interested in health however, in the past my knowledge on the subject was quite limited because I only saw health through a clinical lens. Throughout my undergraduate career, I was fortunate enough to be exposed to the many different areas of health studies. I found health policy to be particularly interesting because it intertwines my passion for both health and legislation. In terms of the equity aspect, I have always been a strong advocate for fairness and human rights. This partly stems from having lived in a very multicultural sub-urban area where residents are at a number of different socioeconomic stages in life. It is truly unfortunate to see what healthcare advantages some have over others. I am especially interested in investigating the disadvantages for immigrants in healthcare and exploring solutions and preventative measures to promote universal equitable health care. I look forward to meeting everyone in September!

My name is Corina Thompson. My strong interest in matters pertaining to social justice and empowerment has been a highlight throughout many years of my life. Upon licensing as a Registered Nurse in my country of origin, Romania, I chose to work with one of the most disadvantaged populations of those surroundings: abandoned children aged 0-3 years. Being afforded the closer view of the circumstances of those children and of the country’s healthcare system, I found myself with the desire to affect change on a broader scale. In order to do so, I obtained a Journalism Degree. Most of my work in media supported marginalized and vulnerable individuals and groups. I currently work as an Emergency Department Registered Nurse, and have the privilege of seeing from close proximity the enormous impact of social status upon an individual’s health. I believe, once again, that our society needs upstream approaches in healthcare, and I would like to pursue the MA in Health Policy and Equity in order to be well equipped and qualified to advocate for change.

My name is Karina Ivie Umaigba. I completed my Honors Bachelors in Health Studies with a specialization in Health Management degree in Winter 2016 from York University. I am specifically interested in the Masters program specializing in health policy and equity at York University for two reasons: firstly, because of its comprehensive and well-structured curriculum, and secondly, it emphasizes the analysis and promotion of equity in health through public policy actions. From my many sojourns in life, I understand that human right and justice are not a given and that I must take action for what I believe. I believe in social justice and equality but also realize that education is the most powerful tool that can help me in my advocacy pursuits.  My broad research interest lies in investigating some of the policies of exclusion that plague Canada’s health care system, more specifically as it affects immigrants of color, immigrants with disabilities, their caregivers, and new immigrants in their interaction with the health care system. I look forward to meeting and working with everyone.

My name is Nathan Waddington. I attended York University and completed my Bachelors of Arts with Honours in the field of Philosophy. While completing my courses within Philosophy, I came upon the fascinating topic of Bioethics. Seeing how philosophy and health could be intertwined was something that really captured my interest, and pushed me to dive deeper into these complicated subjects. While learning how these factors worked together, I was also exposed to the influence public policy has on countless aspects of society, especially how public policy can greatly and directly affect our health. My research interests include philosophical questions of ethics and bioethics, epistemology, meaning, existentialism, health, and public policy, as well as how these topics come into play within Canadian Aboriginal communities. I am particularly interested in how public policy and colonialism have given way to the current state many Aboriginal communities find themselves in, and how many of these social factors are exacerbating these problems as opposed to remedying them. I look forward to meeting everyone and hearing the numerous ideas you all have in the new school year.

My name is Nora Yousefi, I received an undergraduate degree from York university where I majored in Health Studies with a specialization in Health Policy. It was at York where I became fascinated with political factors that result in health disparities. Throughout my academic and volunteering experience, I spent my time providing unmet needs for hard-to-reach communities through running workshops, education outreach, engaging in research projects and leading social programs. I quickly became aware of the inequities that persist within the Canadian healthcare system. My research has been primarily focused on health disparities experienced by immigrant communities and I am interested in identifying policy initiatives targeting these health concerns.

My name is Zsofia Zambo. I hold a BSc and an MSc in Human Nutrition from McGill University. My master’s work focused on the interaction between nutritional deficiencies and infections in pregnant women and their impact on fetal growth. Although these degrees provided a strong foundation in research and population health statistics, I am eager to study policy and take a more upstream approach to health. My primary research interest is in exploring corporate influence on health policy via non-governmental organizations and special interest groups, in particular as it affects policy related to food and beverages in Canada. My interest in this was kindled by my experiences working in the non-profit sector and for local government. I am looking forward to exploring this idea further, and to meeting all of you in September.

September 5, 2016

2016-2017, PhD Graduate Students

PhD Graduate Students in the Health Policy and Equity Program at York University, 2016-2017

My name is Eric Asempah, an avid health policy enthusiast with special attention to equitable health policy for poorer populations in the global south. I completed my Master’s degree in Environmental Studies at York University where I focused on International Environmental Health Policy. During my studies at York University, I facilitated in the development of an Environmental Management Plan for the Somali Ministry of Natural Resources, a document that was meant for use by the Cabinet Minister.  In my PhD program, I will be focusing on global health policy issues particularly in Pharmaceutics with special attention paid to International Pharmaceutical Policy Dynamics and it contributory relations to Wellness in poorer communities.  For the past seven years, I have progressively gained useful experience working in the pharmaceutical industry in various capacities. I am of the opinion that effective health policy is paramount to eradicating global disease burden and promoting a better quality of life especially for poorer people. Equitable pharmaceutical policy is one way I believe this can be achieved.

My name is Arnel Borras.  I am a registered nurse.  I have completed two bachelor degrees from the Philippines.  The first was in economics and the second, in nursing.  I also received an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from York University.  Currently, I am working towards the completion of my Major Research Paper for my MA in Health at York.  The tentative title of my MRP is, “Towards Equitable Health Policy: A Critical Approach to Canadian Housing Insecurity and Homelessness is informed by political economy and social determinants of health concepts. This basically captures the areas of my academic and research interests.  For my PhD research, I intend to explore the interrelationships of food, politics and health.

My name is Ngozi Iroanyah. I am currently finishing my MA at York University in Politics with an emphasis on International Relations and Gender. I have long been personally and professionally invested in how politics influences health policy and its effects on marginalized groups both domestically and abroad. I am very interested in access to healthcare and trends in healthcare and the decision making behind these themes. I have honed my research skills as a former research analyst for a hospital in Mississauga, focusing on community health and patient centred care, an assistant working on a capacity building project in Indigenous communities in Northern Ontario and through two placements in Tanzania where I conducted research on health governance for PMTCT service delivery and most recently, on a maternal and neonatal mortality reduction project where I was involved in several aspects of setting up  several research studies. I greatly interested in further understanding how political forces impact the creation of health policies, especially for those most vulnerable. I look forward to starting this September and meeting you all.

My name is Morris DC Komakech. I have had a career in healthcare, working with underserved communities in Toronto with a focus on reducing chronic diseases and injuries. This work introduced me to inequities and inequalities in the community. I can now say that I know inequity when I see one and this is the reason I decided to come learn about health policy and equity. I have a background in health sciences and I hold an MPH with a focus on Global Health from the University of Toronto. I have also worked on HIV projects in Africa, helping parents living with HIV to deliver children without HIV. Working in rural-hard-to-reach communities in Africa is a thrill area for me. For my PhD, I would like to explore the relationship between changes in immigrant identities and how that shapes the concept of health inequity and chronic illness (or something like that!).

My name is Mehrnoush Ashrafi Mahabadi, and I am a recent graduate from McMaster University with Master of Science in eHealth. My passion to pursue PhD program in this area is due to personal interests, previous work experience in hospital setting, and the high prevalence of mental health among marginalized people and the growing diversity of the problem.  For my doctoral research, I would like to focus on youth and ethno-racial minorities who experience high vulnerability to poor mental health and challenges to access to care. I am looking forward to see you all in September.

My name is Satish Persaud. I will be pursuing the PhD in Health Policy and Equity in September. I am currently finishing up my Master's Degree in Health Policy and Equity at York University and previously completed my Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology at the University of Guelph. My research interests are to explore the state of food insecurity in Canada within a political economy perspective that is concerned with power and influence and how these issues are related to the distribution of the social determinants of health among those occupying particular social locations, specifically immigrants/newcomers. I am looking forward to meeting everyone.

My name is Joli Scheidler-Benns. I completed my Master of Arts in Education at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT). My research areas include: self-esteem, body image, mental health, wellness, and resiliency. As part of my M.A., I co-created an intervention based on health literacy, media literacy, and physical activity. I was also a top 10 finalist in the Ontario-wide Mental Health 2.0 Campaign competition in 2014. I have done research and advocacy for a Basic Income Guarantee policy in Canada and its connection to or impact on the social determinants of health (SDoH). Last summer, I created a national online survey for the top 327 mayors in Canada asking about their views on basic income to help push the policy and educate. In the last two years, I have managed to co-write and publish three papers; two which examine current HPE curriculum policy. I am interested in research which merges education and health promotion with the goal of a healthier society and public health advocacy.

My name is Lynn Torres and I am completing my MA in Health Policy and Equity at York. I am very excited to be joining the PhD program.  I completed my undergraduate specialized honours degree in sociology at Glendon.  My area of research focuses on the social determinants of children’s health, with a special emphasis on how the lack of institutionalized childcare directly affects children’s and family well-being.  My other research projects have compared regulated childcare systems in social democratic regimes with the availability (or lack thereof!) in liberal welfare regimes. I have also examined female labour force implications and the concept of gender equality linked to the introduction of full-day kindergarten in Ontario.  My major research paper examines the role that the welfare state and cultural ideologies play in determining the access, availability and uptake of childcare.  My PhD research will follow a social determinants of children’s health angle, with respect to Canadian childcare policy and how this impacts marginalized communities in Canada.  See you all in September!

September 5, 2016