PhD in Health Sciences
“I’ve learned that following my passion and joining a community with like-minded people can create opportunities beyond my imagination.”
One of the most important things for Emily Blyth’s research into issues of equity and representation is exploring and sitting with uncomfortable truths. She has kept herself open to the uncomfortable questions around large forces that shape our everyday realities, rather than taking it at face value, accepting that her knowledge comes from a specific perspective.
“When we talk about colonialism in this nation state, some of the truths about the racialized structures of our society seem obvious as you learn them, some maybe you knew and didn’t fully accept, and others are shocking,” she explains. “It’s important to embrace this integral learning from wherever your journey starts. One of the tricky things about white supremacy is the way it becomes normalized and invisiblized by hegemonic forces in our society. I feel strongly as a white settler that this type of humble learning is part of our responsibility for reconciliation.”
Emily initially went to university for Communication, looking to examine how representation impacts individuals. Bridging the gap from her previous education into her PhD in sciences, she discovered the intersecting aspect of examining harm reduction between communication and sciences.
“By looking at my research through the lens of health sciences, the inequitable human harm caused by police violence becomes the object of focus and ultimately the measure for change,” she explains. “Changing the kind of representation that I examined as a Communication & Culture MA or a Linguistics BAH is important, and will be a major part of my project, but in the grand scheme this is just one step towards reducing harm.”
Reducing harm and building safety is the overall goal of her project, and a health equity lens is imperative to her bringing this goal into sustained focus.
Being creative and getting involved are two things Emily values, especially when it comes to having community support. For her, those values culminate in being supported by people and peers that bring her the best possible academic and social experience during her graduate studies.
“Find community with your peers and push the limits. It is so important to have community support during a graduate degree – your supervisor and professors and staff can be unmeasurably helpful, but I think in the end it really is your peers that will get you through so build that support group in your cohort and beyond. Then, follow an ‘if you can dream it, you can do it’ attitude – this time in our graduate studies is precious and emergent. Get involved, be creative, and make the best of your time in the program.”