2019-2020 Forum Fellows in Strengthening Health and Social Systems

The McMaster Health Forum is pleased to announce that Abeer Ahmad, Chris Choi and Lynaea Filbey have been selected as Forum Fellows in Strengthening Health and Social Systems for the 2019-20 academic year. The Forum Fellows Program is part of the Forum’s commitment to prepare action-oriented leaders to creatively address pressing health and social systems challenges. Each fellow will support various Forum initiatives, interact with regional, provincial, and international health and social systems stakeholders, and will end their fellowships with an internship through the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship program.

Abeer and Lynaea are entering their fourth year of undergraduate studies at McMaster University while Chris is entering his third year of study.  Lynaea is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts and Science, while Abeer and Chris are pursuing a Bachelor of Health Sciences. All three students have been involved in a number of university-based research projects and community initiatives that have sparked their interests in health and social systems reform and strengthening.

Abeer is an undergraduate student in the Bachelors of Health Sciences Honours Program, specializing in Child Health. Through her experience as a Health Systems Evidence research assistant at the Forum’s Impact Lab, alongside her work with migrant and refugee populations within Canada, Abeer holds a strong interest in exploring how knowledge translation tools may best be utilized to increase health systems resilience and sustainability in the provision of care to vulnerable populations within large-scale humanitarian crises. As a team executive for Bleed Free, an Ontario Public Interest Research Group initiative, Abeer has extensive knowledge surrounding challenges and barriers faced by marginalized populations in receiving equitable access to reproductive and sexual health services. Through her fellowship, Abeer hopes to gain further insight about how evidence-informed initiatives may best be developed and supported in bridging gaps across health systems.

Chris is a student in the Bachelor of Health Sciences Program pursuing a minor in Globalization Studies. From his childhood experience moving between different countries, he developed a broad base of interests covering topics in global health, mental wellness, and political sciences. Chris hopes to empower people who do not have a strong voice in their communities, with a particular interest in engaging those experiencing poverty. During his time at the Forum, Chris looks forward to learning about high-level, community-wide collaboration across multiple disciplines. His role as a Forum Fellow will allow him to develop evidence syntheses for stakeholders, help translate research knowledge into actions, and connect citizen concerns to high-level decision makers. Chris hopes he can help foster a community where more people can engage in discussions about social and health challenges at an interdisciplinary, systematic level.

Lynaea is a fourth-year student in the Bachelor of Arts & Science Program and a Fellow at the McMaster Health Forum. As a student who studies health from an interdisciplinary perspective, Lynaea focuses on gaining an understanding of the complex intersections of medicine and society by examining the biomedical, sociological, and political dimensions of health. Lynaea is especially interested in the social determinants of health and, more specifically, the way in which a health and social systems approach can improve the health of marginalized communities. Currently, Lynaea is the coordinator of the McMaster Students Union Student Health Education Centre (MSU SHEC) which focuses on providing students with health information and harm reduction resources around topics like sexual health and substance use. As a Forum Fellow, Lynaea looks forward to gaining a more comprehensive understanding of the way in which health issues can be addressed at a systemic level.

Abeer, Chris and Lynaea have diverse leadership experiences and hope to engage McMaster students in the vast number of learning opportunities offered by the Forum, including student-led events, courses, and simulation activities.