Kopica Thayaparan recently completed a summer mentorship program at the Universityof Torontofor prospective medical students. The program is managed by the Faculty of Medicine’s Office of Health Professions Students Affairs. The program recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. Kopica reflects with me on the program and her ambitious and busy activism at her school and in the community.
Kopica – Tell me about yourself?
My name is Kopica Thayaparan, and I am 16 years old. I will be going into grade 12 this upcoming school year atStouffvilleDistrictSecondary School. Within my school, I take on executive positions on many committees. I’ve been on Student Council since grade 9 where I have been elected Junior Representative and Treasurer. I am also involved in Empowered Student Partnerships (ESP) where I have been the president. Another main committee I am involved in at school is the Science Club, where I competed in numerous competitions throughout the year. I also attend many leadership conferences and workshops to continuously develop my skills.
I have won the Principal’s List Award and I have received Honour Roll each year since grade 9. I am a former recipient of the Grade 10 English Award and the RBC Literacy Award. One of my biggest achievements was the York Region Student Success Award 2010. My area of interest in academics lies within the Sciences because of the never ending discoveries that you can learn about. I am particularly interested in human biology because it’s very fascinating to study the way we function. Outside of school, I live in a house with my parents, my brother, and my sister.
You completed the SMP (Summer Mentorship Program) program this year. Share with me some of the highlights and why it was a worthwhile experience for you?
The whole experience was a highlight in itself. Most of the time, we had many knowledgeable guest speakers who talked about various things. For example, we had speakers who talked about Immunizations, Presentation Skills, Public Health Research, and so much more. We also had the chance to visit different hospitals to learn more about various healthcare professions.
One of our visits was toSickKidsHospitalwhere we learned about Emergency Medicine. We also went to the post-graduate schools for Nursing, Pharmacy, Social Work, and Kinesiology. During the faculty visits they gave us more information regarding the admission process and the career opportunities afterward. We also visited theAnatomyMuseumwhere we saw real organs and other parts of the human anatomy.
The hospital placements were, in particular, also very valuable. My job shadowing placement was atMount Sinaiwhere I had the opportunity to follow various health care professionals. For example, I was working in the Delivery and Nursing station where I witnessed the birth of a child. It was one of the most interesting and memorable experiences of my life. I developed a new respect for mothers and anyone who bare children.
I also had the pleasure of working with an Audiologist and learned so much from her.
She opened my eyes to a new field of medicine that I never thought of or experienced.
The tests involved in assessing the quality of hearing in individuals were a unique experience for me. This is because I learned the techniques they use to provide various aids to those who need them. Endoscopy was another placement that I got to experience. It was fascinating to see the digestive tract of the body and the method they use to diagnose problems within this organ system.
I had the opportunity to do a dissection on a cow eye which most medical school students have to complete before they graduate. It was a great learning experience and really opened my eye to Ophthalmology. The other huge highlight was the mentorship opportunity that the program offered. We were paired with post-graduate students to help us learn more about career paths. They also helped us with our final research project where we had to create a display board based on our research. The social aspect of the mentorship is something that makes this program as amazing as it is.
You have the opportunity to create life-long relationships that can support your throughout your academic and professional career. The entire program was worthwhile because it gave me a more realistic impression on what these careers involve and the skills and knowledge needed to be successful in them.
You have credited the program as you discover “different health professions careers”. Please Explain.
On one of the last day few days of the program, we all attended the SMP 20th Anniversary event. There were various Alumni who attended the event from all over the world. We had the opportunity to network with numerous professionals across different fields of medicine. The program itself and the placements opened doors I never knew existed before entering the program. There are so many facets of career opportunities that have to do with every single organ, tissue, limb of the body and it is interesting to see what each entails. Even through the lectures, placements, and faculty visits there were a lot to discover about the career paths available.
Where do you see yourself in ten years from now in terms of your career?
Before entering this program I was unsure about my career path, but now that I have completed it I’ve definitely narrowed my choices down. My top two professions that I am interested in are Ophthalmologist and Obstetrician. From my job shadowing placement, I learned the importance an Obstetrician plays in the process of child birth. I have always felt that this was a rewarding career to have, but this opportunity confirmed it and made me realize the real extent that this role plays.
In terms of Ophthalmology, my interest spiked when working on the cow-eye dissection and my research project. It provided me with a deeper understanding of this area that I knew very little about.