Two degrees, one career goal

October 09, 2015

Story by SFU News

Mona Lisa Delva is one of those students whose intellectual curiosity can’t be confined to one faculty or discipline. Intrigued by the kinetics of the human body and new ways of using technology to help those with limited mobility, Delva is graduating with a B.Sc. in biomedical physiology and kinesiology and a B.A.Sc. (Hons.) in biomedical engineering.

She plans to use her academic and technical knowledge to contribute to the nascent field of bionic prosthetics. Bionic prosthetics employ electrical signals from the brain and/or muscles to control a robotic prosthesis in patients who require rehabilitation and assistance because of a damaged or missing limb.

Already enrolled in the Master of Applied Science Program, Delva plans to continue medical and engineering training in her goal to become a physician scientist. Ideally, she would like to travel to under-developed and under-resourced areas to bring affordable prosthetics and biomedical engineering skills to those in need.

As a first generation North American, she is the second in her Haitian family to attend university and is anxious to inspire other women to find their own paths. In 2012, she received a Canadian Engineering Memorial Foundation Scholarship, which gave her the opportunity to address countless high school students and encourage girls, in particular, to pursue engineering and STEM-related fields (science, technology, engineering and math).

She advises students to create their own opportunities if the usual path doesn’t inspire them.

“Don’t underestimate the power of networking with peers, teachers and administrative staff,” she says. “Once they get to know you as a person, they can help you find opportunities that work for you.”

She adds, “Learning from your experience, good or bad, is always important. And remember to take time for the things you like.”

Delva played on the SFU rugby team, travelled to Ecuador to volunteer, taught dance fitness, and served as an officer for the SFU African and Caribbean Students Association.

“My degrees took me a little longer than most students, but I had fun exploring all these other interests and, at the end of it, I’m not burned out!”