Alumnus leads research on HIV in youth
By Phoebe Melvin
For many Masters Students, their thesis becomes another book that sits on their bookshelf; it represents their hard work, but is rarely, if ever, looked at again. Not so for Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) alumnus Kalysha Closson, who could see the potential value of her HIV research and decided to share it by publishing not one, not two, but three articles in leading HIV and sexual health peer-reviewed journals.
Even as a child, Closson knew she wanted to help people, so to follow her dream she applied to complete a Bachelor of Arts in Health Sciences with FHS. Following this, Closson was inspired to conduct research that would have an impact on the global stage. She joined the Master of Science program under the supervision of Angela Kaida in 2015, and focused on the sexual self-efficacy of adolescents living in an HIV-hyper-endemic setting in Soweto, South Africa.
Closson wanted to make the most of every opportunity that came her way during her time as an FHS student. According to Closson, “the highlight of my Master’s degree was definitely my trip to South Africa, where I attended and learned alongside other scholars from sub-Saharan Africa. The course and work in South Africa was invaluable to conceptualizing my Master's thesis."
When asked for any advice for other students, Closson replied “I strongly advise students to take every opportunity they can to travel and experience the multiple opportunities to learn outside the traditional university setting during their time within FHS. I feel that too often graduate students are too concerned with finishing as fast as they can. Your graduate experience is the time to explore yourself, so take your time. Once you’re finished and enter the work force, these opportunities will be much harder to pursue.”
Going forward, Closson, who was just awarded the Canadian Institutes for Health Research Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, plans to continue her studies, starting a PhD in the School of Population and Public Health at UBC this Fall. Closson says, “I am interested in understanding what programming and policies can be implemented to shift harmful gender roles and power relations, in order to improve the disproportionate burden of negative sexual and reproductive health outcomes for young women globally.”