Grad completes program while caring for newborn

Photos by Dan Toulgoet

Pinithi Jayasundara is living proof that you don’t have to choose between having a family and working in a field you love. 

The recent graduate of SFU’s Rehabilitation and Disability Management program completed her studies while caring for her newborn baby and two other children, and now works as a senior support and recovery specialist at ICBC.

Born and raised in Sri Lanka, Pinithi earned a bachelor’s in health promotion before moving to Canada to complete her master’s in public health at SFU. She and her husband later moved to Seattle, Washington, where she worked as a clinical support specialist at a non-profit organization, helping clients who were once homeless get access to resources they needed. The role served as her first introduction to rehabilitation. 

“Helping somebody in need is very important to me,” she says. “In Sri Lanka, I saw many people without access to healthcare or other resources. During my time in Seattle, I also witnessed how people suffer without access to services and even basic needs.”

Given her background in health promotion, Pinithi decided to move back to Canada and find work in the health field. She was soon employed as a disability case manager, prompting her to pursue further studies in the subject. After doing some research, she found SFU’s program and thought it would be a perfect fit.

“I was seven or eight months pregnant when I started the program and completed it when my baby was four months old,” she explains. “I had to complete my courses while caring for my newborn baby. I was grateful that I was able to participate in the classes and discussions because the program had moved online.”

The flexibility of the online diploma allowed Pinithi to advance her career while being there for her family. Thanks to encouragement from her instructors, she’s now hoping to pursue the prestigious Certified Vocational Rehabilitation Professional (CVRP) designation. The SFU program has provided her with the added benefit of meeting CVRP training requirements.

In her current role, Pinithi supports her clients with return-to-work planning and finding treatment to overcome injuries they’ve faced. But she says she wouldn’t be where she is today without a support system of her own.

“My husband was the person pushing me to pursue the diploma from day one, and he’s still asking me when I’m planning to get my CVRP licence,” she laughs. “I had great support from him, which was how I was able to manage everything.”

Pinithi encourages anyone considering the program to take advantage of its flexibility, just as she did.

“It’s a great program, taught by instructors with years of experience in each subject. You can manage doing the program even with a full-time job, taking care of your family, or other commitments.”

By Bernice Puzon