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  • Writer's pictureEmily Pullen

Advice for a New Student, from Someone Who Has Been There

Pursuing research and creating a successful university experience, advice from Marielle.

Pursuing a research position can be daunting, especially at a university that cultivates a culture of competition and academic rigour. Beyond that, most students struggle to figure out what field they wish to pursue and what opportunities will best fit them. One of the Benoit lab's newest research assistants, Marielle Moraleja, knows about students' challenges in finding and working in research while attending classes and planning for the future.

Marielle is finishing her final year at the University of Toronto Scarborough, where she double majored in political science and health studies. She started her journey at the Benoit lab with little experience in health research. However, what she lacked in experience, she made up for in passion and drive to be immersed in the research process and further understand the structural systems contributing to inequities in health care for Indigenous peoples. Marielle hopes to grow with the lab and take on a more prominent role in future projects, like working with participant recruitment and writing and editing manuscripts. Like many other undergraduate students in the lab, Marielle came across this opportunity when she took a class taught by Dr. Benoit. HLTC48 is a course which focuses on Indigenous women's health in Canada; Marielle notes, "I was able to understand further the health disparities among Indigenous women, and the institutions that contribute or perpetuate it. It made me think critically about the structural systems in Canada and how we can further improve them using equitable responses among marginalized populations."

As a fourth-year student, Marielle is no stranger to the struggles and challenges of an undergraduate degree; however, she has some excellent advice for new students at UTSC. Take advantage of resources on campus! Especially checking on CLNX frequently to be up-to-date on any new position available. A great tip is, "You can also use LinkedIn to find your professors to see if they are promoting any student positions." Don't feel as though you are confined to CLNX, but get out and talk to your professors. "Attend office hours!" may feel like it is flung around by every academic advising tutor and TA out there. Still, most students, including Marielle, also preach its benefits in connecting with your professor, understanding course content, and being up-to-date on any opportunities that may arise. Finally, Marielle hopes the students in any year know that it's okay to take their time, "to students who may feel lost or unsure about the future, I recommend taking a step back and reflecting on your journey." This advice is the key to having an outstanding undergraduate experience and truly reaping the benefits that this school and period in our lives have to offer.

We are all thrilled to share that Marielle has been accepted to multiple Master of Public Health programs and will continue her studies this September in a field that she is genuinely passionate about and excited to commence.

We are so grateful to have Marielle as a team member; her skills and expertise in knowledge translation and sharing have been excellent, and we know she will accomplish great things in the years to come.

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