Andrea Feigl

Health Sciences grad’s resilience

October 2, 2008

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By Diane Luckow

Andrea Feigl, who graduates Oct. 10 with a master’s degree in public health from the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS), is one of the first non-Canadian international students ever to be accepted into Cornell University’s medical school.

But Feigl won’t be attending classes at Cornell after all. She couldn’t raise the $250,000 necessary for four years of tuition and living expenses, despite soliciting more than 150 charitable foundations, philanthropists and companies for financial aid.

The Austrian citizen came to SFU six years ago from the University World College in Norway on a Shrum scholarship to pursue a double major in dance and biochemistry. She earned a master’s degree in public health because she knew dancing careers are short, although she recently earned her international ballet dancer’s degree and teaches ballet.

Her goal, however, is to become a physician and work for the World Health Organization’s (WHO) child agenda, which she became familiar with during a four-month stint with the organization in Washington, D.C. For her master’s thesis, she proposed improvements to the Integrated Management for Childhood Illness program, used in more than 80 countries to help reduce infant and maternal mortality rates.

Despite juggling three jobs to finance her education, Feigl served as a student representative on the FHS graduate studies committee and founded a financial aid sub-committee. This summer, she was a project officer for the Canadian Institutes for Health Research. She returns to Austria in December, but because she earned her degrees in Canada she won’t be eligible for financing at home.

Her strategy now is to work in health policy for a year in Canada, Washington, D.C. or New York while she applies for Canadian landed immigrant status. That would make her eligible to apply to Canadian medical schools.

"I don’t regret coming here," she says. "I can see that I and other FHS grads can get really good jobs, both in Canada and internationally."
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