A CONVERSATION WITH RUMIA OWAISI
A CONVERSATION WITH RUMIA OWAISI:
Rumia Owaisi is a recent graduate from York University, where she completed her BA in Global Health with a specialization in health promotion and disease prevention. During her time at York University, Rumia was heavily involved in student services, as well as research activities with her professors. For her efforts and strong academic performance, she was awarded the Faculty of Health’s Gold Medal Award for Academic Excellence and Outstanding Leadership.
Rumia is primarily interested in qualitative research and has a passion for community-level health promotion. She recognizes the importance of individuals’ lived experiences in shaping their physical and mental health, and is particularly keen on exploring how community connections and social support can promote positive health outcomes in individuals. She plans to continue pursuing her research and career interests with a Master of Social Work, which she will begin this September at the University of Toronto.
Did you enjoy university? Do you enjoy university?
My university experience was definitely enriching, but there were times where I felt quite pressured. Through studying global health, I was exposed to both the social and physical sciences. Lectures often crystallized the connections between disciplines and made it clear that individual-level health outcomes are not isolated experiences; instead, such experiences have broader determinants that stretch to the global-level. Learning all of this was enjoyable. I looked forward to attending the lectures and connecting with my classmates, who were approachable, friendly and passionate about social justice.
However, the workload can be tough to balance sometimes! Especially since being a student is not always the only responsibility one has. Managing school, work and family can be difficult, I definitely had to learn how to take breaks and, more specifically, learn how to take breaks without feeling guilty! Procrastination can also be a concern; it is easy to fall into a cycle or procrastinate only to play catch-up later. What kept me motivated was my genuine interest in my work, along with support from my peers and professors.
What areas or topics interest you as you look to the future?
Studying global health exposed me to the multifaceted nature of health. I gained a clear understanding of population-level policies that can promote or inhibit positive health outcomes. I learned that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to ANY health issue, there are various health promotion methods and tactics. One of the things that stood out most to me, however, was the clear power of the local community. Community connections can improve on social isolation and local action can be more sustainable.
Therefore, I hope to work at the community level in the future and organize intergenerational programming that promotes mental health by touching on social determinants such as culture and social support. I believe a Master of Social Work will further prepare me for this goal as social workers often champion local action through organizations, institutions and individual connections.
What roles have people around you (parents, teachers, friends, mentors, etc.) played in motivating you and facilitating your career journey?
My mom has always been a huge source of inspiration for me. She is very active in the community and facilitates programming where Muslim South Asian women come together and bond over their shared culture and faith. I grew up watching how she supported others and have been inspired to do the same.
My professors also supported me greatly throughout my undergraduate degree. I spent so much time in their offices where they would offer me genuine career and academic advice. Such conversations were very valuable and sparked further interest in academics. They also provided me with research opportunities where they mentored me on a one-on-one basis. I am so grateful for the time and effort my professors invested in my development; without their support I would not have been able to decide on my career or research interests. Through direct exposure and close mentorship, I was able to narrow down my goals.
How do you see your role in maintaining and facilitating Planetary health?
Planetary health and human health are inexplicably linked. Therefore, I hope to promote planetary health while promoting human health. I want my community work to be centered around our shared connection and reliance on the Earth. Spending time in nature has been proven to improve overall health, and I want my community to take advantage of that, while recognizing the value and importance of nature as a healer and provider of life. Through doing so, I hope to foster action towards sustainable living. To help me achieve this goal, I am currently taking some training sessions with the David Suzuki Foundation to learn more about planetary health and how to enable local action against climate change.