Nicola Toffelmire

Master of Public Health

Nicola's MPH prepared her well for her work at the World Health Organization.

Nicola Toffelmire’s work in global health truly spans across the world. From Vancouver with FHS, to the London School of Economics in the UK, and now the World Health Organization in New York and Geneva, her studies and work have taken her far. Her fields of interest have been varied, too; from her SFU capstone project on sexual violence in Syria, she went on to study health emergencies and disasters, and now focuses on palliative care and chronic illness for WHO. She says studying at SFU helped her find her passion.

“I think learning about so many different topics in global health and public health and looking at disparities and inequities within countries sparked an interest for me to examine these issues. You can have a policy that works in one region, but then it doesn’t work somewhere else. A lot of the curriculum at SFU supported me and nurtured me into realizing what my passion is: strengthening health systems across the globe, and reducing inequalities among populations living in different countries.”

During her MPH, she also took up two important positions: first, she was selected as the Canadian Youth Delegate to the World Health Assembly; then, she was invited to speak on behalf of the youths at the United Nations Youth Assembly in February 2018.

“For the Youth Delegate role, I was responsible for soliciting perspectives from youth across Canada and hosting consultations with youth organizations in the space of global health. It was very helpful to have my network at SFU with all of my colleagues, as many of them were very interested in the World Health Assembly and health policies. They were able to support me and I was able to share the experience with them, and make sure that our voices were heard at the highest level of decision making in global health.”

“With the United Nations Youth Assembly, I moderated a panel on behalf of youths, spoke with UNAIDS, the World Health Organization, and the Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute, on the subject of global health crises.”

Both experiences broadened her practical understanding of public health. “As soon as I entered the workforce, I was able to contribute a lot to key meetings and share a lot of insights. My new colleagues were impressed with the level of knowledge that SFU has given me. The way that SFU approaches public health has been very practical and helpful in entering the workforce in global health.”