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  • Writer's pictureMarielle Moraleja

Meet Nana: Our Summer Practicum Student

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

Nana Efua recently completed a practicum at the Benoit Lab! She is an aspiring public health professional working towards a Master’s degree in Social and Behavioural Health Sciences with a collaborative specialization in Global Health at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health.

Nana’s interest in health started at a very young age:

“My interest in health/public health started when I was in the third grade in Ghana. We had a speaker come into the class to teach us about HIV/AIDS because the AIDS epidemic was a concern in many African countries. It focused on abstinence, condom use, and the effects of AIDS on the body. Unfortunately, as an 8-year-old, their talk was more fear-inspiring than helpful.”

Feeling a bit confused, her mom helped her understand HIV/AIDS in a simpler way. Using this knowledge, Nana helped inform her friends about it too. After immigrating to Canada, Nana’s first taste of Canadian life started in Thompson, Manitoba, and eventually to Red Lake, Ontario, where she went to high school. As she “spent most of my time in Canada in small towns”, Nana decided that she wanted to experience studying in the city after graduating.

Once she explored her options, she thought the University of Toronto was perfect, as she “…fell in love with the idea of global health…” which aligned with her interests. She then went on to pursue a Master's degree in Public Health at the University of Toronto where a practicum placement is required, and Nana was chosen as a practicum student in the Benoit Lab from amongst a talented group of candidates.

Nana’s work at the Benoit Lab focused on producing knowledge, translation, and exchange (KTE) products for the WHiSE 2.0 project. Just like informing her friends in Ghana, Nana provided accessible ways to help others understand health. She accomplished this through imagery and easy-to-understand text for members of the public. Some of the KTE products she created ranged from educational videos defining research and health terms, posters that listed various harm reduction sites, and educational instructions for harm reduction practices (which are all available to view on our social media platforms!).

Nana notes, “I loved how much I learned every day. Before working here, I did not know much about harm reduction, or community-based research. However, in the last few months, I have gained a vast amount of knowledge on these subjects and how they fit within an Indigenous context. I hope to continue to learn more about Indigenous harm reduction and improve my manuscript writing skills”.

As she is close to completing her Master’s, she hopes to pursue a career in Global Health research as she looks forward to spreading awareness and creating solutions for health disparities around the world. She also offers some insightful advice to anyone who is interested in continuing higher education: “I would ask prospective students to take their time to ensure that the program they want to pursue is something they find interesting. A Master’s degree is a lot of work, and as such, if they have little to no interest in their program, they can quickly fall behind”.

We are so happy Nana joined us this summer, and we wish her the best in her future endeavours!

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