Alumni & Friends - Ways to get involved and give back

Health Humanities: Student Testimonials

Aretina Chan

Major: Health Studies (Health Policy)

Minors: Health Humanities & Art History

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?
My decision to major in health studies was stemmed from being intrigued with the idea of what it actually means to be healthy. So many of us think being healthy means to eat good foods, go to the gym every day or just be disease free, but it's much more complicated than that, and it's that that really drew me to this program. I didn't actually decide to minor in Health Humanities until my third year, and that decision was made after I took a few classes with Dr. Andrea Charise, and what I really found fascinating was the way the humanities and arts challenged the conventional view of health, illness, and death. I also decided to minor in art history in my third year, and that was out of passion. During my high school years, I really enjoyed art classes and especially the art history portion that were taught in those classes, but I wasn't brave enough to do something about that passion until my third year.
Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?
Health studies classes are fascinating especially if you're into viewing health as a broader issue affected by a multitude of external factors. The classes themselves don't just focus on one concept, for example, you may take a class in nutrition in one semester but another class in anthropology in the next; both of which are part of the program optional/required classes, and it's the wide range of classes from all fields that give you a better sense of what health studies can really incorporate. Health studies isn't a program that focuses on hammering into your brain theories or formulas, but requires you to think outside the box to connect broader ideas of health together. The latter goes with Health Humanities. I would like to think of art history as a program about culture and the way the arts are influenced or influence it throughout history. Art history requires you to memorize dates, art works and artists, but that's expected; in addition to that, the classes will help you improve your writing abilities because you'll have to write a lot of analytical and research essays.

What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?
Go into health studies if you have an interest in learning how factors outside of biomedicine influence one's well-being, an interest in learning about how health care systems work around the world work, and an interest in exploring the current issues in the Canadian health care system, such as, long hospital wait times or disparities within Indigenous communities. Go into Health Humanities if you have an interest in how individuals experience health, illness and death, an interest in learning about the way science and the arts can come together practically in the study of health (i.e. art therapy), in addition, you have to be open minded. Go into art history if you have an interest for analyzing art using theories and broader cultural ideas of that time, and an appreciation for art.
What will you do with your degree after graduation? (Future plans?)
Plans include doing further studies in Medical Humanities. Jobs include something in health promotion, museum/exhibitionist officer, art therapy. I would also love to be part of Indigenous health related research.
What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?
My first year was really chill, I had a fun time making friends and being introduced to health studies. My second year was stressful because I had a really hard time figuring out what programs I wanted major and minor in, and I finally decided after 6-12 months of doing research and taking classes.