I had no inkling when I started in the Humanities Diploma Program in January 2004 that I would be a health care researcher. I had entered the program with the primary goal of obtaining a university credential for points for my immigration application.

I discovered a weekly delight of lectures, slides, music and readings by professors from many different disciplines. I could ask all kinds of questions and hear fascinating replies. I did not like writing (then), so I was pleased that the assignments were only a few pages each. Looking up references and sharing what I read was more enjoyable than I expected. I appreciated the professor’s feedback on how to better express my information. So when I got an “A,” I chalked it up to a nice prof and my interesting essay topics.

On your own path, you can rediscover the joy of learning. 
– Renée O’Leary

That summer, I took Moral Problems in Modern Philosophy. My prior experience in hospice care provided material for an interesting paper, and I “aced” another course. I felt like I had a fever in my brain. How would I apply my newly discovered abilities? My late life career goal was to make a difference by reducing human suffering and death. I read that tobacco-related deaths were approaching five million annually. Tobacco control became my focus, and Sociology my lens.

Still in the diploma program, I took courses in Linguistics, English, French, and Philosophy. My brain was on fire! I completed the diploma program in December 2005, and knew I wanted to go on. It was helpful that the diploma courses were credited to my next program, a BA Honours in Sociology (2007). I went on to obtain my MA (2011) while working as a Research Assistant for the BC Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health. Now I am completing my PhD in the Social Dimensions of Health.


  • Posted March 21, 2015