A peek into the world of Valerie: Public Safety student

Introduction

My name is Teniola Valerie Jegede, and I am from Nigeria. I recently graduated from the Public Health program at Ryerson University.

How would you describe the Public Health program to someone who knows nothing about it?  

Ryerson’s undergraduate Public Health and Safety program is one of two in the country, and that tells you everything about the program – it is unique. Public health ensures the safety of the general population, whereas medical personnel focus on the health of individuals within the population. Public health has been referred to as “prevention” while medicine has been referred to as the “cure”. The public health program is a broad innovative program that exposes students to all the various aspects of public health such as epidemiology, health promotion, international health, toxicology and risk assessment, to mention a few.

What is your favourite thing about the public health program?

I particularly like how the program exposes us to variety rather than containing us in a narrowed niche. The program allows you to go through all four years and discover the part of public health that you are most passionate about and may potentially focus your career on. I also like how hands-on the program is. Healthcare is a field that requires hands-on learning as opposed to solely theoretical learning. Through labs, field trips and practicum placements students within the program are able to “get their hands dirty” practicing what they have learnt in the classroom, while also building their resumé. Personally, being in the program has strengthened my resolve to spend my life helping people and making a difference in the healthcare sector. Public health is one of those fields that require passion to be your drive rather than just the paycheck, and I am grateful to be more passionate now than ever about it.

What is your favourite thing about Ryerson?

There is so much I love about Ryerson, but my favourite thing must be the opportunity it gives you to succeed. Ryerson provides so many services as well as support to help students thrive in and outside of the classroom. There are so many opportunities even within the school itself to get involved in something you are passionate about and make a difference within the Ryerson community or even just to build extra skills that would look good on your resumé.

What was been your greatest accomplishment while you were in your program?

I don’t think I can choose one accomplishment to be the greatest, but a few I have been particularly proud of include winning the Nancy C. Sprott award for Public Health and Safety last fall. The award acknowledges a student within the program that has shown commitment to the field of public health through volunteer activities, and is worth $1000. Another achievement is holding the position of Vice President of Outreach for the Leukaemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada at Ryerson, as well as publishing my article in the Ryerson newspaper ‘The Eyeopener’ last semester.

What was been your favourite class you’ve taken?

My favourite class was International Health. I took this class in the fall of 2018 with professor Jordan Trustin. It was in this class that I decided that the aspect of public health I want to specialize in is international health. I came to this resolve after noticing a trend; that the videos we watched in class when we talked about things like “lack of clean drinking water” or “poor health care systems” were videos of African countries. I felt the need to dedicate my life to making significant changes within the healthcare sector of these countries, and help change this notion. This has led me to pursue a master’s in international health.

Has your perception of your program changed from the beginning of first year to now?

Quite frankly, it has. In first year, the courses were more science-based and abstract like physics and organic chemistry but over the years, the courses have become more relatable and ‘people-focused’, such as health promotion and health education, which I have really enjoyed.

What is your advice for future students in your program?

First, make the best use of your time at Ryerson! Take advantage of the opportunities that exist on and off the campus. Build your resumé while you are there. A good way of doing that is getting involved with health-focused student groups such as the Friends of Médecins sans Frontieres (FMSF), the Leukaemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada at Ryerson or the Public Health Outreach Group, to name a few. The opportunity exists to raise up the ranks and hold an executive position, or just volunteer, which would impress employers. Healthcare is a field that requires experience so get as much experience as you can and be passionate!

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