Inaugural class takes its place in the world

By Jesica Hurst

From a young age, Gracia Mabaya knew she wanted to play a role in improving health care and living conditions around the world.

Crystal Mackay // Special to Western News

Crystal Mackay // Special to Western News

Growing up in the Democratic Republic of Congo, she watched other children dying from what should have been preventable diseases. For her, a career in public health made sense.

After completing her Master of Science in Health and Rehab Sciences at Western in 2011, Mabaya worked as a consultant for the World Health Organization. However, she wanted to take her career further by obtaining a degree that would set her apart.

Mabaya applied to Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry’s Master of Public Health (MPH) program and was accepted to be a part of the program’s inaugural class. The class, which finished their studies in August 2014, graduated at convocation ceremonies last week.

“After being in the workforce and being exposed to the field, I felt like I wanted to have more of a course-based foundation in public health,” she said. “I wanted to obtain an internationally recognized degree that would set me apart in the workforce.”

Now into its second year, the MPH program was designed to fill a niche at the intersection of leadership, sustainability and policy within the Canadian health-care system, as well as globally. The interdisciplinary, interfaculty program aims to prepare students to address public health challenges, opening opportunities for students to serve as change agents on a local, national and international scale.

Since completing the program this summer, Mabaya obtained a job as a knowledge broker and research associate for pediatric neuromuscular research at the Children’s Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre. While she had previous work experience, she thinks the MPH program helped to enhance her resume, expertise and knowledge base which helped her into her current role.

“Now that I am back in the workplace, I can see how very well-designed the program was,” she said. “We were taught to collaborate with our classmates and we were encouraged to participate in the classroom setting as if we were in the workplace. That has been very valuable to me.”

Mabaya also enjoyed being a part of the inaugural class, because the faculty and management were very open to student feedback and took all of their suggestions into consideration.

For the moment, Mabaya is working on building her career at the national level, as her current role gives her the opportunity to work with organizations across the country and to manage knowledge transaction activities nation-wide. In the future, she would like to have more of a leadership role within the health-care setting, and she believes the MPH program has given her the foundation to get there.

Posted with permission, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry & Western News

Matt O’Brien: Serious About Comedy

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Matt O’Brien is serious about comedy because that’s his job! He is very passionate about what he does and he loves “everything” about being a stand-up comedian

“I love making strangers laugh, the travelling, hotels, the road food, the hanging out with other comics, the partying, the down time, the constant feeling that I'm very, very lucky to be doing what I'm doing for a living.”

Matt may seem familiar to you, and that could be because of the award-winning comic’s appearances on Video On Trial, Comedy Now, and the prestigious Just For Laughs Festival. You may have also seen him late at night on a subway in Toronto with a video camera because that is where he filmed his own talk show; appropriately titled, “Late Night Talk Show on a Subway”. You can see many of his above mentioned performances on his YouTube channel. Matt can also be found on iTunes. His “Rehash” podcast has been featured in the “New and Noteworthy” category and you can purchase his first comedy album there. Live in a Basement in Front of 20 People reached #1 on the charts in 2014. His awards include: “Best Stand Up” at the L.A. Comedy Festival and “Canada’s Next Top Comic” by Sirius/XM Radio.

O’Brien recalls his time on Much Music’s Video On Trial as an “awesome experience” and says that he really misses it:

“When it was on the air, it really was the launching pad for a lot of comedians and I feel really honoured to have been a part of it. It sucks that it’s cancelled now because I felt it was great for comics [to get] exposure. Also, it was a fun writing exercise, making fun of videos [and] having to come up with pages and pages of jokes.”

The London, Ontario native studied Journalism at Durham College in Oshawa and when asked if this program influenced his comedy and writing style, Matt replied:

“Journalism absolutely influenced me. When I applied to Journalism, I actually didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career. It absolutely led me to doing comedy. I realized I didn’t really like writing about news.... [I] enjoyed more laid-back, fun articles about the best breakfast sandwiches on campus and stupid stuff like that.”

“When I was in journalism one of my professors suggested doing improv or stand up to be more comfortable with crowds and speaking in front of a camera. I tried it and realized I wanted to do stand up more than anything else.”

Matt often returns to London to perform, which for him is a “weird feeling” but it is “still fun” to see his old stomping grounds: “[It’s] funny to think that I’m hired to tell jokes to these people now.”

O’Brien advises that if you are serious about comedy (as a career) then that’s what you should do – take it seriously: 

You really have to make comedy your entire life. It’s fun but there are a lot of ups and mostly downs. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done but because of that, it’s also the most rewarding. If you’re thinking of doing comedy, move to Toronto and go out to open mics every single night of the week.”

“Someone asked me what my hobbies are and I couldn’t really think of anything because I literally go to shows and write all day, every day. I guess that’s the most ideal situation to say ‘my job is my passion and my hobby’.”

Matt O’Brien’s “ideal situation” is now his reality and he is very fortunate to be doing what he loves for a living. His many accomplishments came from “years of hard work, practice and open mics.” Although Matt is a stand up comedian, you can apply his work ethic to any occupation:

“Like any passion, it takes thousands of hours to be good at it, and I have absolutely worked thousands of hours to be good at what I do. Even when it was really tough, I never thought about giving up.  I guess that’s how I knew my job and my passion were the same thing—and I feel very lucky for being able to say that.”

For more information on where and when you can see Matt, you can visit his website and follow him on Twitter.

Why Not Be A Nurse?

By Karli Steen, WorkStory Ambassador

ENT/Urology Nurse Karla McTaggart-Steen had always known that she wanted to work in the field of healthcare, but originally saw herself as a physiotherapist. She started out taking Western University's Kinesiology program, but soon realized her grades didn't meet the mark.

Nursing seemed like the obvious next step: "One day I woke up and thought 'Why not become a nurse?' It's a good job, secure profession, with a good income and the best part is you get to help people through the most challenging times in their lives".

With that, she pursued the collaborative Nursing program provided by both Fanshawe College and Western University. When asked what she found most useful about the program, she had this to say: "My clinical placements were the most beneficial experiences as I was able to go to different clinical settings and gain a sense of the type of nursing I enjoyed the best.  I was able to interact with patients and their families and learn about health, wellness and empathy."

A day on the job can be full of both reward and sacrifice: "I start at either 7 am, or 7 pm, and basically don't sit down for 12 hours.  Sometimes I miss my breaks, or go for 6-7 hours without eating something.  I am responsible for much more then basic patient care, I make sure the docs don't miss anything, that my patients get to all of their appointments on time, that they are cleaned, walked, dressings are done, vital signs stable, educated about lifestyle changes, given all their medications on time, documentation donein addition, there is coordinating care with allied health,  caring for their family members, wiping tears, making jokes, laughing and helping them to have a few smiles in this dark time in their life.  Go home, shower and repeat less than 12 hours later"

In spite of the sacrifice made, Karla says that the most rewarding thing is being able to help. Whether it be guiding patients and their families through after-hospital care, or holding the hand of a dying patient, being the helping hand is a blessing. She hopes to help even further by going back to school for nurse practitioner credentials, where she hopes to work alongside a family physician.

When asked for advice for future Nursing hopefuls, she had this to say: "My advice would be make sure it is something you really want to do, not something you go into for the money.  It is a very physically and emotionally draining career and if your heart is not into it, you will burn out.  It is a great career in that there are so many job options for nurses.  It is a very well-respected and rewarding career."

Bridgit: A Mobile Innovation / Construction Story

When a structural engineer and a business grad get together, what happens?  They just might change the construction industry!  

“ They started by driving around London, Ont., in the early mornings looking for construction sites. Mallorie Brodie and Lauren Hasegawa had a hunch the building industry was ripe for some kind of mobile innovation – they just weren’t sure what. “

More about Bridgit  and its co-founders – both Western University grads – here

Go Bridgit !

Finding the Right Fit: Travis’ Story

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Travis Tibbo, who is known for helping his own community in times of need, seems to have made the right career choice as a Community Support Worker. When asked why he loves his job, Travis replied:

I love my job because it is very rewarding. Every day, the work I do is helping others to live the life they want. Hearing somebody say ‘thanks’ at the end of a shift always makes the job worthwhile.”

Raised in Chesley, ON, Travis “took the college route” and attended Fanshawe College in London for the Developmental Service Worker program. He graduated in 2013. Travis began working in his field while at school and has had various work experiences which led to where he is today:

“I work at Community Living Owen Sound and District. I started off working in Community Living London while I was going to school. While I was there, I worked in a residential house which was lived in by four gentlemen and one lady. Right before graduation, I had an interview to work in Port Elgin. I got a 20 hour contract and I also worked casual part-time.”

Unfortunately at this point, Travis was not receiving enough hours, so he took on a position at a youth correctional facility known as “Pine Hill”. Although this was outside of his field, Tibbo was used to working with different types of behavioural issues and was willing to give it a try. Then he was offered the full-time position at Community Living in Owen Sound, where he works now. Travis said that “it was the same district as Port Elgin, but just a new location.” He accepted the offer and he saw his hours increase, which made him very happy.

The Developmental Service Worker Program helped Travis a great deal in his career. He is very lucky that everything he learned can actually be applied on the job:

“I learned how to write SMART goals, which I use mostly every day. I also had 3 separate placements which helped me decide what I would like to do. I now support people who live mostly independently and help to support them with their everyday tasks. I help to assist them with their jobs or volunteer placements and also with their everyday needs like banking, shopping, hygiene, apartment supports (like cooking and cleaning) plus anything more they would need. Everything that I have learned in school I can use in my every day at work, from proper documenting to proper delivery of medication.” Travis also acquired knowledge of various disabilities while he was in college. With this information, he is able to “gain a rapport” with the individuals that he supports.

Travis Tibbo works very hard at what he does but he also has fun at the same time! So, if you have been considering a career similar to Travis’, then he thinks you are already on the right path towards doing what you love. Here is his advice for you:

“The only thing I can say to someone who would like to go to school for a Developmental Service Worker is, ‘DO IT!’ You will not regret it, as it is one of the most fun-filled, rewarding jobs I have had. Most days it doesn't even feel like a job. It's so much fun!”