• The Mentorship Spot

Public Health at University of Waterloo

Updated: Jul 30, 2020

By Serrina Philip


My name is Serrina Philip, and I am currently in my third year majoring in the Public Health Co-op Program at the University of Waterloo. Moreover, I am pursing a minor in Legal Studies and obtaining a specialization in Aging Studies.


Public Health provides a unique opportunity for students to visualize health from a broader lens. It incorporates fundamental disciplines such as epidemiology, climate change, health policy, biostatistics, biology, politics, and cultural perspectives. Understanding health from a multidisciplinary view demonstrates how the social determinants play a pivotal role in an individual’s well-being. With this knowledge innovative ideas can be determined when finding solutions to prevent diseases from progressing or re-occurring. Public Health at the University of Waterloo’s main mission is to broadly focus on improving health, quality of life and care, from both a population and an individual level.


The reason I chose the Public Health Co-op Program at Waterloo is because I am passionate and determined in improving the health of individuals, either through community development and engagement or through health promotion and education. Additionally, students can customize their degree through various specialization options and are allowed to choose their minors of interest. The Faculty of Applied Health Sciences provides more than thirty specialized upper year HLTH elective courses. Hence, offering flexibility to students who seek to explore other areas of disciplines within or outside their faculty. Furthermore, the program has some of the smallest class sizes when compared to other programs within the faculty, allowing students to foster long lasting friendships and relationships with their professors.


One of the primary reasons I chose Public Health is due to the Co-op Program offered. Co-op provides amazing experiences that are directly related to the learnings of class teaching. This permits students to gain lifetime skills, explore various career options especially when ones interest evolves. There are a countless number of organizations students can apply to, focusing on the experience they prefer. In tandem, students have the option of procuring international experience for four months. A few examples of Health Care Co-op opportunities that are offered include, Research Student, Cancer Research Analyst, Project Analyst, Residential Assistant, and Clinical Assistant.


As a Public Health Co-op student, your school sequence alternates every four months between working full time and studying. This is one of my favourite parts because you never get bored! Being able to see how your education directly correlates with what you do at work, is a fulfilling feeling.


Public Health at the University of Waterloo allows you to make a meaningful contribution through researching or creating strategies to reduce or control various global concerns. During the final year, students can complete a thesis, an independent study, or a community placement. This further enhances student knowledge and allows students to employ these real life experiences.


A student interested in Public Health must ask themselves if they are open minded, or are seeking to learn the solutions to various global health concerns. Additionally, students should be drawn to learn the social determinants of health, and must enjoy being challenged. If these factors relate to you then Public Health might be the program you want to look into!


Thanks for reading this article! If you liked it, consider checking out the other articles on our page and stay tuned for new ones weekly! Did you know we also pair high school students with uni students in their desired program for advice and mentorship? Check out our sign-up page to register as a mentor or mentee today!


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