Highlights from the 2018-19 IHPME GSU

June 3, 2019

by Emmanuelle Arpin

This year’s GSU has numerous accomplishments to be proud of. A few of them include, maintaining and enhancing the various Mentorship Programs across IHPME streams, initiating the IHPME Writing Circles, establishing Members of the IHPME GSUthe IHPME Conference Stipend for full-time and part-time research stream students, collaborating with associations outside of IHPME including DLSPH’s student association and UofT’s Student Life, organizing new social events such as Ethiopian Coffee and a Comedy Night, securing external healthcare leaders for events such as the Lunch and Learns and Health Policy Rounds, and organizing a fantastic 2019 Research Day. Many GSU Executives also secured external funds from UofT’s Student Initiative Fund (SIF) to make GSU events bigger and better.

To add to our reflections, we asked our executive team to share their thoughts on what they enjoyed about being a member of the GSU and what they are proud to have accomplished this academic year.

Arlinda Ruco, Social Coordinator and DLSPH School Council Representative

I loved getting to know people, both fellow students and staff and faculty through my roles on the GSU. I also enjoyed learning more about the broad strategic directions of the Department and contributing to the strategic planning process. First and foremost, I wanted to contribute to the student experience to ensure that things that are important to my peers and I were addressed, talked about or celebrated. In my role as Social Coordinator specifically, I set out to organize new and innovative events for people to network and connect. For example, this past year we organized a comedy show social as well as a headshots and brunch potluck event where students received a free professional headshot. Other events included organizing a coffee social and experiencing a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony. The aim was to think outside the box and engage a variety of students from different programs and with varied interests.

You get to know and build friendships with many people through the GSU that you would not otherwise get the opportunity to. Working towards a common goal and celebrating accomplishments along the way also builds a nurturing community of support. As a member of the GSU, you have the opportunity to learn more about how administrative decisions get made which can give you insights about the current context and climate of graduate academic training.

Lydia Sequeira, Alumni Committee Representative

I thoroughly enjoyed serving on the GSU for the past three years, especially helping to establish and run the GSU Alumni Mentorship program where we connected Health Services Research students with fellow program alumni. Through my role, I was also able to promote community building and mentorship within IHPME altogether, something that I am very passionate about and hope to continue doing.

Emmanuelle Arpin, President

There are two main reasons why I enjoy being part of the GSU: first, student led-initiatives at the IHPME do have a direct impact on departmental affairs and student life. At the IHPME we are lucky to work with a faculty and administration that is receptive to student needs. An example of a student-led accomplishment from the past year is the creation of the new Conference Stipend. As President, that was one of my first objectives I sought to accomplish. We worked with Graduate Coordinator, Whitney Berta, and Graduate Assistant, Kerstin Giannini, to secure a $500 conference stipend for full time and part-time research stream PhD students.

Second, I love that within the GSU students develop a strong sense of community. It can be intimidating to start a new graduate program and challenging to learn the ropes quickly. In addition, as you progress in your program and finish coursework, graduate studies can become quite isolating at times. Being part of a community such as the GSU been extremely meaningful and has served as an important supportive resource.

As President, I have been so impressed by the drive and engagement of my fellow peers. On top of their studies, they demonstrated so much dedication towards giving back to their student community. Ranging from organizing lunchtime seminars with distinguished healthcare leaders and student peers, to mental health workshops in partnership with U of T Student Life, these students have demonstrated so much leadership and genuine thought while developing these activities and events. A particular initiative that we have seen grow over time is the GSU’s HSR Peer Mentorship Program. Since its inception three years ago in Fall 2016, it has grown is scale and scope, as every there are more student matches, bigger social activities and more funds allocated towards mentor and mentee meet ups. It has also been expanded to matches with IHPME alumni and MHI program.

In 2018-19, the GSU secured three Student Initiative Fund (SIF) grants, totalling in over $4,000 dollars. Funded initiatives include, the LinkedIn headshot with a professional photographer, Research Day and support for mentorship activities.

Jennifer Gutberg, Student Seminar Series Coordinator

Serving on the GSU executive has been a privilege, and I’ve taken so much pride in knowing that our collective work improves the graduate school experience for fellow IHPME classmates and colleagues. As the Student Seminar Series Coordinator, this manifest in giving students a platform to share their research in a stress-free environment, while facilitating joint sharing and learning on topics so many of us are not normally exposed to. The Student Seminar Series is a wonderful forum to showcase the novel and important work of IHPME students, and my time in this role and with the GSU has left me truly astounded at the sheer brilliance of our student body.