Emily’s Journey in Global Health

A Discussion with Emily Pittelli:

Hello! My name is Emily Pittelli, I am 23 years old and live in Toronto.   I am currently a Global Health (BSc) student at York University set to graduate this June!  During my time as a Global Health student, I have had the pleasure of specializing in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, something I have a strong interest in.  This program has allowed me to better understand the complex intersectionality that exists among the social determinants of health and how I can work to improve the health and welfare of communities holistically.  For my final semester, I participated in a practicum with Mixed Company Theatre – Toronto’s theatre for social change.  Through this incredible experience I have gained great insight on how to use forum theatre – an innovative theatre technique that is highly collaborative and empowering – to promote community well-being and planetary health.  I have been working as a Patient Administrative Associate at Sunnybrook Hospital for 3.5 years and am grateful to be able to interact with patients, family members, and health professionals and support them in anyway I can, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Additionally, I am a lover of the dramatic arts and will always be a theatre kid at heart, I try to participate in as many drama-related activities I can fit in!  Recently, my partner and I have taken the leap to move out and share a small basement apartment in The Annex, Toronto.  Since then, I have been improving my cooking skills, going for long walks on Bloor St., and getting used to caring for my own home; an exciting but eye-opening experience!    


How do you see your role in maintaining and facilitating Planetary health?

I think my role to maintain and facilitate planetary health stems from all areas of my life, from trying to minimize my household waste to learning how to use participatory theatre to empower communities and improve their situations.  I have a passion for the theatrical arts just as much as I do for global health, and I want to use these creative tools to find novel and effective solutions to a variety of challenges such as mental health, workplace harassment, environmental racism, stigma, and many more.  Although professionally I see myself using the arts to promote and facilitate planetary health, I believe we can do many small things each day to strive for positive change.     

Did you enjoy your time in University?

Overall, I have really enjoyed my time at York University.  I took a variety of classes that made me a more conscious, informed, and educated individual who now feels ready to enter the workforce and continue being an agent of change.  Throughout my five years at York, I have been overwhelmed by the incredible professors and fellow students I have gotten the chance to learn from and spend time with.  It was quite difficult at times juggling my part-time work with a full-time university load but now that I am approaching my last weeks as a YU student, I truly cannot believe how fast the time has flown by and how much I have been able to accomplish.  I struggled through some courses I never thought I would be able to complete (like calculus!) but I did it! And now am on my way to feeling confident about my career possibilities, all thanks to my experience as a global health student. 

What inspired you to go into Global Health?

In grade 12, to be very honest, I was struggling to decide what I should pursue in University, I knew it did not have to be the ‘end-all-be-all’ but I knew it was still a big, important decision that I spent months procrastinating because of my feelings of anxiety for the future.  In high school I was a Drama major at Earl Haig Secondary School and although I love theatre, I knew I wanted to educate myself on something different in University.  Ultimately, I sat down and asked myself, other than drama, what classes have I enjoyed learning about the most? And the answer to that question was biology and geography.  I also knew that I loved working with people and wanted to make a positive difference in people lives.  With the help of my amazing mother who also works in healthcare, I set my sights on being a global health major! Since my first year at York, I knew this was the right decision for me and now, graduating from this program, I still have some of those anxieties I did in high school but more than anything I feel so excited to continue my growth both personally and professionally in the field of global health. 

 What roles have people around you (parents, siblings, teachers, friends, mentors, managers, etc.) played in motivating you and facilitating your career journey?

I am so lucky to have an amazing support system around me who only push me to stay true to myself and be the best person I can be. My mom has been an amazing role model to look up to and help motivate me to continue my studies in global health.  Additionally, many teachers at my high school and professors at York have helped me understand my potential and encouraged my growth.  Additionally, all the change-makers I have had the pleasure of working with at Mixed Company Theatre have been crucial in facilitating my global health dreams and career journey.      

How do you spend your free time?

Lately, during the pandemic, I have found a new admiration for yoga and all of its incredible healing properties.  In my free time I like to practice yoga, listen to music, dance, cook, and spend time with my partner in our new neighborhood!  Free time is something I take very seriously as I know it is not healthy to feel constantly stressed/anxious and this is something I struggle with.  I like to set time each day to do something (or a few things!) I enjoy such as blasting some music and dancing it out, drooling over a new cookbook I just bought, or appreciating a nice leisurely bike ride down to the harbourfront!     

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