Asha Hollis | Research and advocacy go hand-in-hand

During her time as a student in the Cumming School of Medicine’s (CSM) Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHSc) program, Asha Hollis has taken advantage of every opportunity.

Author

Genevieve Juillet, Cumming School of Medicine

During her time as a student in the Cumming School of Medicine’s (CSM) Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHSc) program, Asha Hollis has taken advantage of every opportunity. “I chose the Cumming School because of the focus on research,” said Asha. “I have loved the opportunity to gain hands-on research experience that has the potential to make a difference in people’s lives.”

Asha graduated from the BHSc program on June 5, 2017, and credits CSM with helping her discover the passions that will drive her future career. “I discovered that advocacy and research go hand-in-hand; research informs advocacy, and advocacy helps move research into practice,” said Asha.

As a student, Asha has worked on research studies focusing on misdiagnosis of nephrotic syndrome in children, and on using activity trackers to measure motor outcomes in children with cerebral palsy. “I feel very fortunate to have had these opportunities. I had amazing supervisors.”

Asha also devotes much of her time to health advocacy work. She was heavily involved in a successful campaign to ban menthol-flavoured tobacco products that targeted children in Alberta, and is currently working with fellow students and staff at the CSM to advocate for the protection of health-care workers and hospitals in Syria, which are subject to frequent bombings and attacks.

Looking toward the future, Asha is hoping to pursue a career as a clinician-researcher. For now, she continues to engage in advocacy work and in pediatric neurology research with her supervisor, Dr. Adam Kirton. “Graduation is exciting, but bittersweet,” said Asha. “I’ve met so many amazing people in all areas of the Cumming School. I’ve gained lifelong skills and have had fantastic experiences.”

Tidbits from Asha

Which living person she most admires: As part of my research, I’ve met many children who suffer from life-long conditions. Their courage and positivity in the face of numerous challenges is something that I greatly admire.

Favourite book: It’s hard to choose, but I really enjoyed Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks, which combines neuroscience and music in a series of fascinating anecdotes.

Hidden talent: I’ve played violin since I was six – I now play with the University of Calgary orchestra!

What the Cumming School of Medicine should do in the next 50 years: I would love to see the CSM take as big a step forward in the next 50 years as it has in the past 50 in education, research and community engagement, especially with vulnerable and under-resourced populations.