"Students in the Spotlight" is a conversation series with members of the SofC Urban Leadership Fellowship and Academy program
What are your research and engagement interests?
My research interests lie in equitable and culturally competent healthcare, services, and education for marginalized youth. It’s important to me that youth feel empowered to make decisions about their bodies and behaviour in an informed fashion. I am specifically interested in implementing community-based, youth-centred participatory research projects that work to destigmatize and address the systemic barriers marginalized youth face when accessing healthcare.
What has motivated your interests and journey? How do you hope to make a difference?
I had the opportunity to engage in sexual health peer education in both high school and university, which was an incredible opportunity because I got to experience firsthand the power of youth-led work in destigmatizing topics that feel so taboo. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Carmen Logie throughout my undergrad in the Stigma & Sexual Health Interventions to Nurture Empowerment (SSHINE) Lab, where I worked on research projects surrounding health equity, youth refugees, and transgender health. The work in her lab not only expanded my research skills, but my understanding of what research could look like and the creative ways research could be conducted and implemented. I hope to continue community-based research within community health settings, to build the competencies and knowledge of young people surrounding sexual and reproductive health.
What’s the latest project you have been working on that you would like to share with the SofC audiences?
As an academy member, I am excited to be working on a resource for youth looking to access a range of sexual and reproductive health services in the Downtown Toronto core during the COVID-19 pandemic. I will be utilizing infographics to share this information.
The pandemic has made it difficult to access a range of health services, including reproductive and sexual health services. With a multitude of different services and types of appointments, I hope to consolidate information on where to access different services and how to do so.
As a student, researcher and or activist, what have you learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and its global impact? How do you envision post-pandemic recovery? What do you hope for?
The pandemic has shown me how intersectional identities and circumstances can drastically change the level of vulnerability an individual or community has to precarious situations. Access to resources and education are vital in fighting the pandemic, but equally as important is responsible governance and addressing structural inequities that have always existed.
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?
I have truly enjoyed my time as a member of the Academy Program at SofC. The meetings are robust and intellectually stimulating, and I have loved the opportunity to connect and discuss with my fellow Academy members that come from all streams and levels of academia. SofC has been only one of the few environments I have been in during my undergraduate degree that has felt like an academic space where I can expand my understanding about issues I care about in a genuine and exciting way.
Vibhuti is a fourth-year student studying Global Health, Psychology, and Equity Studies. She is passionate about health equity and access to comprehensive, culturally competent care and is focused on adolescent sexual and reproductive justice. Working with Dr. Carmen Logie’s Stigma & Sexual Health Interventions to Nurture Empowerment (SSHINE) lab, she has explored health outcomes for trans men in low- and middle-income countries and worked on qualitative research understanding HIV and STI stigma for urban youth refugees in Kampala. She is a member of the U of T Sexual Education Centre and has volunteered at Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention.