5 Questions with Samara Mascarenhas, MPH Practicum Student

Samara is currently in her second year of the Master of Public Health program at University of Waterloo, and will be completing her practicum with PAN during the winter term from January to March 2023. Samara has previously completed an Honours Bachelor of Science in Health Science and Mental Health from University of Toronto.

What kind of impact do you hope your work has on the “real world”?

I hope that the work I do through research and evaluation manages to improve the lives and experiences of individuals and their communities – even if it is only a start. This includes reducing existing stigma and discrimination, improving health equity amongst marginalized populations and ensuring that people with lived and living experiences and related communities are able to lead, engage and see such changes that are made.

What’s an exciting thing you are working on right now?

There are many new projects and initiatives that are currently happening at PAN. One project I am excited to be involved in is the Sustaining Partnerships to Advance Community Priorities in STIBBI Public Health Data Sets project (SPARTA) aimed at improving patient and community-oriented engagement and surveillance priorities for STIBBI surveillance data.

If you had unlimited funds, what parts of community work would you invest in? (research, outreach, training, etc.)

I believe that a lot of stigma still exists, insensitivity and overall unfamiliarity of culturally sensitive care when it comes to assisting and providing support for individuals with HIV and hepatitis C in Canada. Lack of accessible and literacy-inclusive resources for Canada’s diverse and growing population is also of great concern even beyond the realm of STBBIs. If I had unlimited funds, I would want to invest in improving accessible and inclusive health promotion initiatives alongside advancing training practices in public health.

If you were to write a book about work life, what would its title be?

I have never believed that one’s island of knowledge remains constant or is defined by certain limitations. Working alongside groups of individuals and various communities, I have had the opportunity to engage in new perspectives, view ideas in a new light and remain curious about how I can advance my own work and advocacy. From this, I would define my perspective of work as: “Lifelong Learning”.

If you were able to choose, what is the natural talent or superpower you want to be Gifted with and why?

The power to travel through time. Spending more time with individuals/places I might never see again, reliving memories that passed in the blink of an eye and having the ability to be prepared and plan for the future would be amazing.