I was raised in King City, but it was not until entering KCSS in 2004, that I finally began to feel proud of my hometown. The KCSS community was warm, welcoming, supportive and inclusive from the beginning, and acted as a platform that allowed me to start believing in my potential and abilities.
Having had surgery to remove a brain tumour, at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto when I was 8, I spent a good majority of my childhood feeling self-conscious of the qualities that made me different from my classmates. As a result of the surgery, my differences ranged from having a tremor, visual impairment (partial blindness), learning difficulties, and requiring special accommodations. Even though I had fantastic support and encouragement at home and through the outside community, I still saw my differences as negatives - disabilities that diminished me, and held me back.
That is, until I set foot in KCSS. It was here that I was presented with a world of opportunities. I was supported by teachers and students in everything I did — from playing football for the King Lions, mentoring and orienting new students, and excelling in academics. The things I saw as making me “different and disabled” in the past all but disappeared, in the wake of a positive environment. I learned that with the right mindset, support and dedication, anyone can be a leader. I am forever indebted to KCSS, its staff role models, and an inclusive student body.
Motivated, I left KCSS to complete a Bachelor of Science degree, studying Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour at McMaster University. Having a personal fascination with the brain, and a determination to improve the healthcare system, I got involved in neuro-research. I met wonderful people, gained fantastic learning experiences, furthered passions, and developed research skills.
At the end of my time at McMaster, I had the honour of being asked to work as a research student, assisting with childhood Brain Cancer research, at the very place that saved my life, The Hospital for Sick Children. It is so gratifying to be able to give back to other children who are experiencing a common struggle, and seeing the hospital and healthcare setting from a different perspective.
Since my time at SickKids, I have been working at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, where I am coordinating two research studies considering how meditation can help improve overall health and wellbeing of 1) brain tumour survivors (Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada funded project) and, 2) nurses healthcare workers. I also have been honoured with funding in the community, to improve mental health, by incorporating mindfulness and yoga into the classroom in an individual Toronto District School Board curriculum.
It is my hope that the experiences I have gained so far, along with those gained through future education, will inform me how to help others as a future psychologist. In my short life so far, I have come to realize two important things. The first is that for most of us, we are fortunate to be given a great deal of time in life. How we use this “life time”, is fundamentally up to us, and a choice we make every moment of everyday. Second, the greatest thing we can do is give back to the communities that helped us grow, learn and smile. So with these two important lessons in mind, I continue to strive to use my time as productively as possible, giving back to all of the communities that allowed me to grow, provided me with lessons, and made me smile.