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Individual head shot photos of Spencer, Monique, Maya, Shyla, Abdelrahman, and Rashi combined into a one image in a grid formation.

Congratulations to our first on-campus program graduates

Last month, the Bachelor of Health Sciences welcomed the first cohort of graduates from the on-campus program to our growing group of alumni at Convocation. These six students all joined the BHSc program as a part of the first ever on-campus cohort in 2019 and have now graduated with the BHSc General Degree in 2022.  

As a program, we are so proud of our newest alumni and the hard work that they’ve put into their studies. We can’t wait to see what they do next.  

Our six on-campus program graduates, Spencer Fansolato, Monique Botros, Maya Senthilkumaran, Rashi Ramchandani, Abdelrahman Noureldin, and Shyla Gupta all agreed to answer some questions about their experiences in the BHSc program.  

Why did you originally choose the Queen’s Bachelor of Health Sciences?  

Maya: I originally chose Queen’s Bachelor of Health Sciences because I wanted to be a part of a new program that engaged students with a unique and novel style of learning. Throughout high school, I found that I studied better from learning content on my own, rather than when a teacher would deliver a PowerPoint lesson in class. For this reason, I felt that Queens’ program was better suited to my own strengths and learning abilities. I also really liked that the Health Sciences class was going to be small in size, which would allow me to build a tight-knit relationship to my peers and professors.  

What was it like to be a part of the first on-campus cohort of BHSc students, and to be amongst the first graduates from the on-campus program?  

Shyla: Being the first on-campus cohort was a great experience! There were a lot of unknowns and fewer people to guide us, but the opportunity also allowed us to really shape our learning experience. There was a lot of workability within the administration to improve the program continuously. Being among the first graduates was exciting as well. Although a 4th year in health sciences would have been a phenomenal experience, I’m looking forward to my new chapter in medical school. 

How has the program prepared you for your future goals?  

Spencer: The diversity of courses, and the diversity of delivery methods in a single course itself, offered by the program has prepared me to take on the role of a more holistic healthcare provider by emphasizing the importance of advocacy and communication in patient centered care. Further, the way students and staff are integrated into the flipped classroom style of learning has ignited my curiosity for medicine and my ability to collaborate with others in the space to solve common problems. 

Shyla: This program has been excelling in instilling a strong basis of scientific understanding. It’s also given me exposure to relevant courses about public health, collaborative practices within medicine, and advocacy. I feel equipped to study higher level courses such as pathology and physiology, while also grasping a strong understanding of how to apply my knowledge to help patients in all life circumstances. 

What was your favourite thing about the BHSc program?  

Rashi: My favourite part of the BHSc program was the flipped classroom format. When starting the program, I was slightly wary whether this would be the right learning approach for me. However, having done it for three years, I have first-hand seen its usefulness in helping me develop skills of working efficiently independently and collaboratively. Apart from my studying ethic, the flipped classroom format also gave me the flexibility juggle academics, extracurricular activities, and part-time jobs, while also having some down-time. 

Monique: I have never felt so accepted and supported by people as much as I have by the faculty at the Bachelor of Health Sciences Program! In high school I had heard so much about people and programs not caring about you in university, but that sentiment could not be more contrary to my experience. I could sense that everyone wanted me to do well, and I saw it clearly in the way they celebrated my successes every step of the way. The small class size was also amazing. I pretty much know everyone in my class by first name and knew I had a friend if I ran into any of them in an extracurricular or elective class. 

What skills have you developed through your time in the BHSc?  

Abdelrahman: The most notable skill I feel that I’ve taken out of my time is understanding/analyzing and writing academic literature. I feel comfortable researching topics on my own, how to use a reference manager, making sense of complicated research papers and the statistics/methodology behind them, and translating that in my own writing.   

Rashi: The BHSc program has helped me develop a multitude of hard and soft skills. Notably, the research-intensive courses, group-based learning and flipped classroom helped me develop a critical thinking mindset, collaboration/teamwork and time-management skills, respectively. I particularly enjoyed how the BHSc program prompted us to develop these skills right from the get-go to ultimately apply these skills when taking on leadership initiatives and independent research projects in upper years. 

Do you have any tips or advice for students in the program (or entering the program)?  

Spencer: My number one tip would be to really take the time and pay attention to how you learn. This may look like keeping an agenda, using creative note-taking apps, or collaborating with peers. Another tip would be to really engage during class time. By giving so much scheduled space to talk with the teaching team, the program really ensures every classroom experience has the potential to be unique and truly special. 

Maya: I think my biggest advice to incoming students and students already in the BHSc program is to follow your own path. When I was in first year, I found it really easy to be swayed by my peers; especially in the courses I picked or the clubs I chose to be a part of. However, I soon learned that it was important to pursue my own interests and create a path that was different from others. In the end, an undergraduate degree is really what you make of it, and it is definitely rewarding when you are able to engage in extracurriculars and academics that suit your passions. 

Abdelrahman: My advice would be not to get too caught up in the future, and to just enjoy your undergrad. One thing specifically is to surround yourself with people you really value and enjoy being around. That is something that took me a little longer to do especially since I lived off campus and was a degree or two removed from the rest of my cohort, but it was the friendships that made it all worth it in the end. 

What has been your favourite extracurricular experience and why?  

Monique: I think one of my favourite experiences was my involvement in orientation week. I met so many people through this experience that I continue to keep in touch with. It was also so nice to be able to set an inclusive and welcoming tone for incoming students. Being part of orientation was so meaningful to me that I want to continue it at UofT when I can! 

What is your favourite course that you took and why?  

Shyla: My favourite course was GLPH 271. I gained a true appreciation for timely topics such as Indigenous health through this course. I also had the chance to design an intervention for female cervical health in Rural India. The insights I learned in this class are applicable to my future goals of wanting to advocate for marginalized health populations. 

Monique: IDIS 373 (Health Ethics, Law, and Policy) is my favourite class! I love that the class and professor weren’t scared to delve into heavily nuanced topics of health. The class also tied in content to current events seamlessly. After taking that course, I felt so well equipped to understand multiple perspectives on commonly debated issues in health and the current Canadian laws associated. 

Abdelrahman: My favourite course was CANC 380, and that was mainly because of the professor, Dr. Charles Graham. Dr Graham challenged us in class with debates and fun projects that built off what we were learning, and I appreciated how it was done in a low pressure a friendly environment, so everything was ultimately about learning.  

Maya: My favourite course that I took was PHAR 370: Fundamentals of Pharmacology and Therapeutics. What I really enjoyed about PHAR370 was that the course not only discussed various drugs, but also went into depth on the diseases they treat and the physiological systems they affect. I also admired that the course allowed students to apply the module content in very unique ways. 

Spencer: My favorite course would have to be the first-year core course GLPH 171, Social and Physical Determinants of Health and Disease. There is no doubt that this course will change your perspectives and beliefs on medicine if you give it the chance. I had always had a passion for public health and interventional medicine, by virtue of my extracurriculars in High School, and GLPH finally allowed me to put some knowledge and expertise behind these interests. 

Rashi: My favourite course was HSCI 591: Heath Sciences Research Design and Methods. This was a new option course that gave me the opportunity to lead my very own research project allowing me to first-hand see the the scientific method from start-to-finish.