School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

Stefanie Stuart

Master of Public Health
(Class of 2015)

Stefanie Stuart

 

A Passion For Health Equity

by Brenda Melles, April 2015

If you ask Stefanie Stuart what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would tell you she was torn between three fields: conservation biology, healthcare and theatre. It was her love for all living things that inspired her to complete an undergrad degree at the University of Toronto in integrative biology and neuroscience. By the end, she had affirmed her interest in health. But she had also become convinced that health was more than genetics, chemical reactions and cellular pathways. So, she decided to pursue a Master of Public Health (MPH), knowing that it would be a more integrative approach that would pay attention to the range of social and political issues that contribute to health.

Moving to Kingston to start her MPH meant big adjustments – life in a smaller town, and living on her own for the first time. But for Stefanie, being a part of the small class of MPHers was also a welcome change. “I really enjoyed working together supportively with my peers, instead of the more competitive atmosphere of undergrad,” says Stefanie, “We were all in it together, and we still are.”

As part of her MPH, Stefanie did a summer practicum placement in the Health Equity department at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto. The placement met her desire to do work in health equity. But it also provided a context to practice and develop a wide range of marketable employment skills. During her placement, she completed a rapid literature review, collaboratively developed an evaluation framework, and strengthened an online community of interest.

In her final term of MPH coursework, Stefanie started actively searching for jobs. “I knew I wanted to work in the community,” Stefanie says, “And I told myself that I would have an open mind. I was definitely open to moving outside of the Toronto area for the right opportunity.”

Stefanie finished her MPH in December 2014, and started her new full-time job the next month. She is now a Community Health Promoter on the Healthy Schools Team at the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit. Her main task is to work with schools to develop comprehensive strategies to address their unique health priorities.

What are her dreams for her future as a public health professional? Stefanie answers with passion. “I want to have an impact and contribute to greater equity in health. That’s very important to me. There needs to be a shift in public health so that inclusion and accessibility are not just an afterthought, but are a part of the foundation of public health. All people have a right to health. I want my work to contribute to that shift.”  

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