Alumni in the Field

Catherine Donovan-Lirette
STU Degree: BA '92
Major: English and Psychology
Job Title: Speech Language Pathologist for the Anglophone North School District
Location: Miramichi, NB

What are the duties and responsibilities of your work?
I’m a speech-language pathologist, working in the school system. I work year round, providing assessment, diagnosis and treatment of communication disorders in children from Kindergarten to Grade 12. I travel to several schools in my District and work in partnership with the Educational Support Services teams to determine the best means of providing intervention to those students who require it. I treat articulation disorders, receptive and expressive language delays, fluency (stuttering), as well as providing programming to special populations such as children with Autism, Down Syndrome, FAS, Cerebral Palsy, etc. I work with non-verbal or minimally verbal students who require assistive technology to communicate, helping the teachers find ways to include these students into their classrooms more fully.
 
How can students prepare themselves at STU to work in your field? (eg. volunteer work, internships, extra-curricular activities, specific courses)
Graduate programs in speech-language pathology are fairly rare—only six schools in Canada offer the course— so it’s important that students pursuing a career in this field look at each school's requirements, as they are quite varied in their pre-requisites. Communication Disorders is science based, yet very linguistic and psychology based at the same time. Undergraduate courses in linguistics, developmental psychology, statistics, anatomy, physiology and even physics are valuable. Admission into these programs is very competitive, so seeking out opportunities to volunteer at a hospital, clinic or school with a speech-language pathologist may improve your chances of acceptance into the program, as well as helping you decide if this career path is for you.
 
How has STU and your liberal arts education helped you in your career?
My years at STU were some of the best times of my life. I grew up in a small town and STU was the perfect transition for me. The smaller class sizes and excellent professors, who not only knew your name but took the time to actually get to know you personally, gave me confidence as a student. This confidence instilled a drive in me to do better and to be better. Having the confidence to think big and strive for excellence makes for a future that knows no limits.

Dr. Luc Boulay
STU Degree: BA '90
Major: Psychology
Job Title: Sr. Clinical Research Scientist, Neuroscience (Neurodegeneration & Pain) with Eli Lilly Canada Inc.
Location: Toronto, ON

What are the duties and responsibilities of your work?
I am part of the Medical Affairs team at Eli Lilly Canada, which is a pharmaceutical company.  This means that I do many different things internally within the company and externally with academic institutions, investigators and clinicians.  I work within our neuroscience division with a primary focus in Alzheimer’s Disease.  As a Sr. Clinical Research Scientist, I am involved in Phase II and Phase III clinical trials that examine the safety and efficacy of compounds in neuroscience.  Results from these trials will determine if these drugs proceed to commercialization, not only in Canada but globally as well.  I also provide medical and scientific support to various other groups within the company.  For example, I collaborate with those that are involved in submitting dossiers to Health Canada, the marketing group, and I help in scientific training.  I also give presentations at conferences and scientific meetings.  On the surface, it may seem that the life of a scientist is quite isolating; however, this is certainly not the case at all with my job.  What I do is all about working collaboratively which means that I am in constant contact with colleagues across Canada and globally. I also travel a fair amount in North America and Europe in order to meet with people face-to-face.

How can students prepare themselves at STU to work in your field? (eg. volunteer work, internships, extra-curricular activities, specific courses)
In order to work within medical affairs as a Clinical Research Scientist in a pharmaceutical company, a doctorate level degree is preferred.  Typically, professionals in this line of work will have a PhD, MD, or a doctorate in pharmacy (Pharm.D.).  You would also need to enjoy the business side of science.  What I mean by this is that people working within this environment are not only strong scientifically, but they also have very good business acumen.

How has STU and your liberal arts education helped you in your career?
I completed a BA (Hon) in psychology while at STU which did not limit me in entering the medical research world.  It was the starting point in my career development.  An undergrad in psychology is what sparked a lifelong passion for the brain and neuroscience which led me to pursue an MA (experimental psychology, Carleton University), PhD (experimental neuropsychology, Carleton University) and a Post-Doctoral Fellowship (functional magnetic resonance imaging [fMRI], University of Montreal).  If you think about it, how cool is it for us to use our brains to study our brains? In order to do this, we need to apply the best scientific methods possible.  The courses that had the greatest impact on me at STU and helped me get to where I am today focused on research methodology and statistics, and they provided me with an exceptional foundation as I continued my training.  In fact, as an Assistant Professor at the University of Ottawa, I taught similar courses to students headed for graduate training.

Dr. Rachel Ouellette
STU Degree: BA '03
Major: Certificate of Honours in Psychology
Job Title: Pediatrician for Horizon Health
Location: Fredericton, NB

What are the duties and responsibilities of your work?
As a general consulting pediatrician in Fredericton, NB, I take care of children from birth to 18 years old. As a consultant, I don't generally do primary care, meaning I don't usually see "healthy kids." Family doctors, emergency physicians, or other specialists will ask me to see a child if they have a medical problem beyond their scope of practice. My workload varies and can range from caring for a newborn baby that was born too early, co-managing a child with cancer, assisting a family in caring for their child with diabetes, dealing with a child experiencing an asthma exacerbation, monitoring an adolescent with an eating disorder, etc. I visit my patients that are admitted to hospital every morning, and then I see patients in my office for the rest of the day. I’m also on call several times a month which entails being available to see patients urgently for a 24-72 hour period.

How can students prepare themselves at STU to work in your field? (eg. volunteer work, internships, extra-curricular activities, specific courses)
You no longer need a science degree to get accepted into medical school—many medical schools appreciate students with diverse backgrounds. Several medical schools will have some basic science or language arts requirements, and some will require that you write the MCATs before you apply. Your resume should include several activities that show you enjoy being out in public and interacting with people. Participating in hobbies, sports, and volunteer work gives you something to talk about at interviews. It also demonstrates that you have a good work-life balance.
 
How has STU and your liberal arts education helped you in your career?
On a daily basis, I return to my psychology background more often than my basic science portfolio. Understanding human development and interactions has been much more helpful than understanding cell division when I’m meeting with a family regarding their child's medical problem. STU taught me how to think critically rather than accept black and white scientific theories. I really enjoyed my learning experience at STU. It was a great gateway to further studies in medicine and pediatrics.

Matt Eagles
STU Degree: BA '13
Major: Economics
Job Title: Medical Student, Memorial University
Location: St. John’s, NF

What are the duties and responsibilities of your work?
I’m a medical student and am just beginning my third year of studies, which is called clerkship. Clinical clerks function as junior members of the healthcare team in the hospital, and report to the residents in whatever rotation they are on.

How can students prepare themselves at STU to work in your field? (eg. volunteer work, internships, extra-curricular activities, specific courses)
The best way to prepare to get in to medical school is by getting good grades, and being involved in extracurricular activities. Try to make an impact in whatever activity you are involved in. Regarding your major, most medical schools do not care what you studied in undergrad, so long as you can get a decent score on the MCAT.

How has STU and your liberal arts education helped you in your career?
Perhaps more than anything, a liberal arts education teaches you how to think about problems in many different ways. This has served me very well during my time in medical school. I honestly feel that having a liberal arts degree has been an advantage for me.