Zahra Rajan poses in the fields of a tea plantation in Kerala State, India. She spent four months in India on a work co-op.

Born explorer embraces world of choices after graduation

June 05, 2017

Canadian-born Zahra Rajan, who spent several years growing up in Rwanda, Africa, has developed an unquenchable thirst for new experiences and knowledge. During her undergraduate studies, she tested the waters as a history major, and subsequently as an education major before finding herself at home in the Faculty of Health Sciences.

Even then, Rajan was primarily attracted to the exploratory nature of the Bachelor of Arts in Health Sciences program.

“The program incorporated an understanding of many fields, including economics, education, communications, biology and sociology,” she says. “The opportunities available for immersing myself in various disciplines within the context of public health won me over.”

During her undergraduate journey, Rajan ventured beyond the classroom and completed two international co-op placements. She spent a year on a small island in South Korea teaching English to elementary school children, and four months working at Destiny Reflection, a non-profit organization in Kolkata, India that empowers survivors of human trafficking, as well as at-risk women.

Through her co-op experiences, Rajan realized the importance of connecting with people across different cultures, languages, religions and socio-economic statuses when promoting health.

“Our social experiences determine our well-being, and learning how to connect with others meaningfully was one of the ways I put into practice what I had learned as a health sciences student,” she says.

While she never stays put for long, Rajan formed close relationships with various professors who became inspiring mentors. She credits education professor Lannie Kanevsky, and health sciences lecturers Rochelle Tucker and Kate Tairyan for engaging her curiosity, and growing her confidence.

An explorer in every sense of the word, Rajan hopes to establish a career in global health now that she has completed her degree.

“I’d like to work towards the dismantling of social, economic and political disadvantages that suppress women’s rights, and that result in poor health outcomes for them and their children.”