The pursuit of a meaningful career: how I decided on a Master of Public Health at UofT

Public Health Degrees – Hear from the Students
University of Toronto

My name is Lindsay Toth and I started my Master of Public Health at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto in September 2016. It is a course-based Master’s program and I am in the Social and Behavioural Health Science stream. I am also pursuing a Global Health specialization within my degree.

In June 2016, I graduated from Queen’s University with a Bachelor of Physical and Health Education (Honours with Distinction). My undergraduate degree was unique in that it was comprised of courses in both the Sciences and the Arts, and allowed me to develop a truly diverse understanding of health. I took classes in statistics, anatomy and physiology, but also in health policy, social determinants of health and socio cultural courses. Physical and Health Education students also had a practicum course in each year of study, including practical experiences in outdoor and physical education. My most fond practicum experience was teaching Physical Education and Health to adolescents with disabilities in a local Kingston high school.

My experiences outside of the classroom were also equally important for my personal development. My leadership and teamwork skills were improved through my role as the President of the Phys. Ed. & Kinesiology Student’s Association, where I channeled my passion for making a difference for others on a large scale. I also volunteered for a non-profit, student-run NGO called Queen’s Health Outreach (QHO). Through my experience with QHO, I travelled with seven other Queen’s peers to teach health education in various regions of Belize, in partnership with the Belizean Ministry of Education. In collaboration with the Ministry and local principals, our role was to expand on the existing health curriculum where appropriate and create tangible goals for the future. One of my favourite memories was working with students with intellectual disabilities in Belize, and through my experiences through Queen’s Phys. Ed., I was quite confident that working with persons with disabilities was my greatest professional interest.

One of my professors at Queen’s, Ms. Beth Richan, introduced me to Global Public Health opportunities through her course, HLTH 403: Community Based Rehabilitation. This fourth year course combined my interest in disability studies and health within a global context. In my fourth year I applied to Master of Science in Occupational Therapy programs and Master of Public Health programs, particularly Global Public Health programs. Occupational therapy is a very respectable and rewarding career, but professionals in that field work one-on-one with patients, which I wasn’t as interested in. I ultimately chose the U of T Master of Public Health program because I wanted to make a difference for others, particularly persons with disabilities, through large-scale initiatives. I believe that the nature of a career in public health is most reflective of my skills, personality and interests.

It was difficult to decide which Global Public Health program to pursue, however, the U of T program offers an internship in each year of study, and my practical experiences were the most rewarding and influential aspects of my Bachelor’s degree at Queen’s. I look forward to my internship this summer, although I’m not sure where it will be yet! Regardless, I know that I will continue to strive for a career working for the international rights of persons with disabilities.

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