What are you currently working on? What are your research and engagement interests?
I’m very interested in analyzing the complex socio-cultural and economic arrangements that affect health through my research and work engagements. Indeed, I’ve tried to use my passions and interests in public health, public policy, and advocacy in order to work toward the de-monopolization of resources for traditionally underserved peoples.
Within the SofC, I’m currently taking part in two projects. In my fellowship with the SofC, I am working with marginalized artists in order to better understand the necessity of artist’s voices in subverting traditional narratives (of oppression, racism, etc.) that we carry in society. I plan to release a monograph that features the works of these artists and my thesis as my deliverable. I’m also working on another Student Academy project (in the Urban Indigeneity and Racialized Communities Working Group) in order to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on racialized communities who are especially burdened by the pandemic and delivered through (tentatively) a video-documentary series.
What has motivated your interests and journey? How do you hope to make difference?
I must admit that the foundations of what drives me today has come from lived experiences growing up in traditionally underserved areas within Toronto, though I wasn’t always as social-justice oriented. It was upon migrating from earlier academic levels to institutions like U of T that I began to realize the massive differences in support and resources that were available to individuals I was surrounded by in my own ends and to (some of) those I was surrounded by at U of T. These disparities were not based on chance but were systematically perpetuated issues. Naturally, I became determined to further explore the inequity-based needs of community members suffering from the symptoms of social and economic disadvantage in order to better support vulnerable populations. I’ve tried to benefit my lived experiences since then with learned and worked experiences in order to better learn and understand how to treat the symptoms of systematic oppression. I want to use my work to help design better systems that do not take advantage of individuals, especially those traditionally marginalized by our current systems. I want to use my research and work to elevate the voices of those individuals facing inequity.
What’s the latest project you have been working on and would like to share with the SofC audiences?
Most recently, I’ve completed a self-initiated research project based out of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health (DLSPH) where I studied the impact of infrastructural factors that contribute to societal integration and healthcare access among Syrian refugee adults and their families within Canada. I tried to be as transparent as possible during the process, collaborating with policy makers, local playmakers, & refugee populations directly in order to answer unmet questions in Canada’s current refugee and healthcare infrastructure. I’ve also just completed my term as the Co-Director of the U of T International Health Program, a student service and non-profit housed jointly out of the DLSPH and the Faculty of Medicine. I’m very proud of the work I was able to accomplish there, from organizing student conferences or health seminars, to creating new scholarship funds for students. Between working on my projects at the SofC and studying for the MCAT, I haven’t had much time to do much else more recently.
As a student, researcher and or activist, what have you learned from the pandemic and its global impact?
From an activist lens, I am finding that even during a public health crisis such as the pandemic, there are a plethora of problems that continue to arise. Despite the triumphs made in encouraging social isolation at all corners of the globe, public health needs a better political strategy -- whether it be seen in individuals failing to abide by the precautions necessary in order to hamper risk of virus spread, or just failing to take the virus as seriously as it should be taken.
Simultaneously I find the opposite argument to be true as well. I think this whole quarantine situation has given a lot of individuals the time to take a step back and really learn about the issues that plague our world today. Whether that be racism, oppression, or the pandemic. I’ve rarely seen times when there was this much advocacy from the general public trying to raise awareness and help others. We’re in trying times especially for certain demographics and no one is left untouched by this situation.
Please share with us your experiences at the SofC. How do you think being a member of the SofC Urban Leadership Fellowship and Academy Program has contributed to your scholarship and added to your experience as a student?
Since the day I first heard about my acceptance, I’ve been ecstatic at my place here in the SofC. The SofC Urban Leadership Fellowship and Academy Program has allowed me to connect with such a diverse, motivated, and studied group of individuals that I’ve not come across beforehand. It’s really benefited my growth as a student, activist, and researcher and also has allowed me to greatly connect with individuals from such diverse backgrounds and ways of thinking that I would not have otherwise come across by staying within my academic field (life sciences).
Any final words/ message?
Today, now more than ever in recent history, we find ourselves in heartbreaking times. However, the time is ripe for real systemic change to be made. Please take the time to relax if you need to — now is as great a time as ever — just don’t stop fighting for others that need your help and support.