BSc Networking Event July 23rd - Samantha Streekstra

I had the amazing opportunity to attend a Networking Event this summer where five Guelph alumni talked about their careers. To start the Microsoft Teams meeting off, Elizabeth Lowenger introduced the first presenter, Dr. Adena Commisso. Dr. Commisso is a Guelph graduate who attended the University of Toronto to become a pharmacist. During her time at Guelph she was a co-op student, and she told us how that helped her not only figure out what she wanted to do, but what she didn’t want to do as well. In her typical day, she is the “medication expert” in the medical team, providing medication to patients in a community-based setting. While most pharmacists work in a community-based setting, they can also work in a hospital or research-based setting.

       Next was Dr. Danika Hawthorn, a third-year resident in obstetrics and gynaecology. She completed her undergraduate degree at Guelph and then went to NOSM for medical school. She spoke of the ranking system for matching into a residency and said that going to a busy hospital allowed her to see and do more, even though it can be initially intimidating. Her final advice was to go with the flow and learn about different lifestyles associated with the different specialties in medicine.

       Following Dr. Hawthorn was Dr. Tyler Hickey. He talked about his long journey to his career, with almost 20 years of schooling under his belt to become a forensic pathologist. He discussed his path, saying that he found an interest in both research and becoming a physician in his undergrad. After applying to medical school and not receiving an interview anywhere, he regrouped and did a graduate degree in British Columbia. After this, Dr. Hickey applied again and got into UBC’s medical school. His biggest takeaway was to not stop living while you’re pursuing education – do not hit pause on every aspect of your life just because you are going after your dream. His piece of advice? The journey is just as big of a part as the end goal.

       Next, we heard from Dr. Steven Roche, another Guelph alumni. He spoke of his passion for ecosystem and animal health. He had the opportunity to work in different sections of Public Health, and even created his own company where they primarily focus on animal health and welfare research. Currently, he is also an adjunct faculty member at the University of Guelph in Population Medicine where he also does research and literature reviews.

       Finally, we heard from Dr. Benjamin van Galen, a dentist who had an unusual path. He started in business at Guelph, but quickly switched to Biological Sciences. After applying three times to every school in Canada and not getting in, he decided to go international to NYU in Manhattan, where he spent the next four years getting his degree. He explained that going to the United States allowed him to be well-rounded and allowed him to do everything. He loves his job as he there is great flexibility in being a dentist – both with the procedures you do and hours- and you get to be your own boss. Most importantly, he says he loves his job as it is rewarding; he gets to help the underserved, disabled, children, and even gets to go on outreach programs. His advice? It will take time to figure out what you want, and there is no shame in not getting in the first time.

       Overall this was an amazing experience that allowed me to get a look at the different career paths that Guelph has helped me prepare for.