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Laurier graduates first cohort of its Health Sciences program
The first cohort of Laurier’s Health Sciences B.Sc. program graduated at convocation ceremonies held at Laurier’s Waterloo campus, preparing them for the next phase of their education toward becoming doctors, occupational therapists, dentists, health administrators, as well as other health-related professionals.
The first cohort joined Laurier in September 2009. Enrolment was originally expected to be 50 students in the first year, but it exceeded expectations with 78 students. The second cohort had 100 students, and the third and fourth had 120. Another 120 students are expected to enrol this fall.
“I think people are more and more interested in personal well-being,” says Rick Elliott, chair of the Health Sciences program and an associate professor of Mathematics. Elliott was involved in the initial discussions to establish the program.
Elliott says that while many of the students entering Health Sciences look at it as a pre-med or pre-dentistry program, it was purposely designed to give students a much broader perspective on careers in the health sector.
Following two years of required courses including health sciences, biology, chemistry, psychology and mathematics, and with a greater appreciation of the possibilities for future study, students begin to focus on long-term goals with their choice of elective courses in third and fourth year. Faculty members advise students on which courses to take for specific career fields and help them prepare for pre-professional entrance examinations.
“The class is now almost split into people who want to go in the direction of a more science-based career, and those who want to go toward a more social science-based career such as public health or health administration,” says Elliott.
At the end of June, Elliott is stepping down as coordinator of the program and handing the reins to Peter Tiidus, professor and former chair of Kinesiology and Physical Education. Tiidus, who was acting dean in the Faculty of Science when the first cohort entered Laurier, says the program hopes to add faculty, Health Science courses, laboratories and opportunities for students to get more practical experience.
“Health Sciences continues to attract high quality students and is proud to prepare them to pursue the variety of career opportunities in health and health-related fields,” says Tiidus. “I see a very bright future for Health Sciences at Laurier and look forward to its continued development of successful graduates.”
As for Elliott, who will be retiring in two years, seeing this cohort graduate is a bittersweet moment.
“I’ve gotten to know every single student in the first cohort,” he says. “To have been involved so late in my academic career with a group like this – bright young individuals who have eagerly worked to make the program a success – has been a true joy for me.”