School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

Creating Spaces for Community & Health- Meet Ampai Thammachack

MA student in Geography!

by Brittany Friesen, May 2022

Ampai Thammachack

Ampai remembers her mother remarking that she was born with a suitcase in her hand as she grew up among the harbors of Nova Scotia. After high school, she embodied that travelling narrative and moved to Kingston to pursue her undergraduate education in Kinesiology. Ampai had an early induction into the language of movement and dance exposing her to the possibilities of professions that cared for the body. Yet, in her second and fourth years of undergraduate study she felt a strong connection to the ideas and faculty that interwove health, business, and entrepreneurship.

Ampai has a strong affinity for spaces of community; her undergraduate kinesiology student body brought a sense of place as well as the influence of Dr. Mark Rosenberg who taught a fourth-year course opening her to the possibilities of medical geography. She appreciated his engagement with undergraduate students and knew his depth of supervisorial experiences, kindness, collaboration and focus on under-represented groups of people in Canada would align with her own interest in connecting health and entrepreneurship.

She was accepted into the graduate studies program for human geography at Queens and began her research with Dr. Rosenberg. Ampai has focused on the sense of community that is created in spaces of mental health treatment at Queens University for those identifying as Black. “There’s practically no data on Black people in mental health care,” she explained, and acknowledged the concerns with accessibility as defined by timeliness of services and the ability to be seen by someone who can share common experiences and community ties. She hopes her the results of her study will not come as a surprise and will provide a concrete measurement of the current disparities in mental health care on campus.

But Ampai doesn’t want to stop with simply capturing this picture. She hopes to explore further education with a focus on business at the graduate level and integrate her thesis data into programming that can be used by her charities across Canada. She has fostered an ability to envision, implement and lead organizations that collectively speak to holistic advocacy resulting in her receipt of the 2022 L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth award. Her three organizations each focus on a different aspect of the human experience: 1) The Glass Slipper gives all high school students the opportunity to feel celebrated despite socioeconomic status; Step Above Stigma advocates to increase access to mental healthcare and, 3) Alucia provides accessible clothing options for all body types. This multi-faceted advocacy speaks to her desire to honor the inherent worth of each person and transform instances of tokenism into more meaningful moments of representation- something she purposefully does in the way she portrays her models using both their image and stories within her Step Above Stigma, The Glass Slipper, and Alucia advertising. She is currently the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Step Above Stigma, the Co-President and Co-Founder of the Glass Slipper Organization, and was the Chief Operations Officer of Alucia.

 “It’s about how confident we feel stepping into the world” she reflects. It’s a sentiment clearly seen throughout her organizational leadership and the focus of her graduate research on Black students and mental health services, and in her own journey as she continues to take bold steps forward with her suitcase in hand.

For more details on the Geography program visit the Geography & Planning website.