Simran Purewal, who graduates with a Bachelor of Arts degree in the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) this month, has been awarded the 2022 Dean's Convocation Medal. The annual award recognizes graduating students that have accomplished outstanding academic achievements.
She worked in multiple student leadership roles in the SFU community: Arts Representative and VP Student Life with the Health Sciences Undergraduate Student Union (HSUSU), a peer mentor with the Health Sciences Peer Mentorship Program, and founder and editor-in-chief of the Health Sciences Undergraduate Journal (HSUJ).
“Getting involved in HSUSU and Peer Mentorship allowed me to work collaboratively with other students to connect with the broader community and host events such as our annual career panel and socials,” she explains.
Purewal also pursued various experiential learning opportunities to explore her passion for healthy equity and community engaged research. She worked as a Research Coordinator for the COVID-19 Health Literacy Study for her co-op, examining the health literacy levels of post-secondary students and exploring how the pandemic affected the mental and physical health of this populations.
“Through this project, we published multiple articles, including two first author papers, and presented our findings at an international conference. From this, I was fortunate to continue working with Paola Ardiles as a Research Associate for a community engaged project, exploring the barriers in the medical licensing process for internationally trained physicians,” she recounts. “Overall, meeting and being mentored by inspiring faculty members, like Paola Ardiles, was one of the highlights of my experience at FHS.”
In the final year of her degree, she established the HSUJ with the goal of creating a low-barrier platform for students to share their research and course work, and gain experience with the peer-review process.
“Many students have expressed their interest in getting involved in research before grad school; through this journal, students were encouraged to submit research related to health equity, public health, and global health,” she explains. “With the help of the journal’s senior editors, we trained a team of 12 peer reviewers, copy editors, and layout editors and successfully managed the journal and published our first issue in May.”
With the completion of her BA, she looks forward to staying involved in research and pursuing a Masters of Science in Health Policy or Migration Studies abroad. For Purewal, her FHS undergraduate experience taught her to be reflexive, citing how crucial it is to understand how positionality shapes ones work, and to be prepared to reflect on ones beliefs and assumptions.
This story was originally published on the Faculty of Health Sciences website on June 6, 2022.