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FHS Co-op leads to Ministry of Health position
By Sarah Campbell
As a Senior Project Management Advisor at the BC Ministry of Health, health sciences alumnus Monique Sekhon says that Co-op allowed her to gain vital skills for professional life.
According to Sekhon, she always knew she wanted to work in the health field and establish a career built on helping others. She jumped into university life headfirst, joining clubs within SFU such as Phi Delta Epsilon, UNICEF SFU, SFU Choir, and SFU Blood4Life, starting a mental health and substance use organization, and participating in programs including SFU Health Peers, Student Health Advisory Committee, Health Change Lab, and the Co-op program.
Her first Co-op working with the BC Cancer Agency’s Genome Sciences Centre was, in Sekhon’s words, “incredible.”
“Just standing outside the building was motivating. I got to work remotely, travel, and meet incredible people who inspired and humbled me,” says Sekhon. “There’s no way I would have known that from just a job description.”
Subsequent Co-ops have included working at SFU’s Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addictions (CARMHA) and the BC Ministry of Health, which led to her current position.
A combination of exploration and the desire to gain professional experience led the student to apply to the Co-op program.
“I wanted an opportunity for experiential learning, and to see the application of the skills I was learning at school while also gaining skills I would need once I joined the workforce,” says Sekhon. “I also wanted a chance to try out different positions and organizations to learn more about what I liked.”
Sekhon’s drive to maximize her time at SFU proved worthwhile. At CARMHA, she was able to showcase her research and work with professionals in a field she is passionate about. During her Co-op at the Ministry of Health, she experienced greater responsibility in a role supporting the health of British Columbians.
After five years of studying in the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS), she graduated last month with an Honours Bachelor’s of Science degree (with Distinction), focused on Population and Quantitative Health. As for future plans for the FHS graduate?
“I plan to stick around at the Ministry of Health for a while longer,” says Sekhon. “I will eventually return to graduate and professional education, where I plan to focus on mental health and substance use. I’m also continuing to develop my mental health advocacy program, Care-2-Share.”
To students considering applying to Co-op, Sekhon says it allowed her to get as much out of her SFU experience as possible.
“Co-op is the tricycle of professional life: you’re getting rewarded and gaining vital skills, but you’re supported, have a chance to experience all aspects of your role, and have time to figure out what works for you and what you’re ready for. There is no better way to prepare for life after university.”