Congratulations to all our wonderful graduates from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, many of whom were able to celebrate in person at November 25’s joyful convocation ceremony. Here, we meet a few of them from across our Schools and hear about what they loved about studying at McGill, what they’ll remember about their time here – and what’s in store for them after graduation.


Dheeksha Reddy

Degree: Experimental Surgery
Hometown: Ottawa and Iqaluit

What I loved most about studying at McGill’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences: The support and the wide range of opportunities that we get to explore. The courses provide a platform for us to create, develop and grow. It makes sure we think out of the box and come up with the best outcomes possible.

A wonderful memory I’ll never forget: I never felt so happy, satisfied and confident about myself as I felt here. I can express myself with no hesitation. I am honestly sad that I am completing my education and will be graduating but if I get a chance to come back I definitely will.

And a few shout outs… Favourite professor: Dr. Fackson Mawale – the guiding light. Never did anyone guide and support me as much as he did. Micha Huynh: my greatest supporter and always there for her students. Sharon Tuner: if I have any trouble, I reach out to her. And finally, my supervisors – Elif Bilgic (project supervisor) and Laura Epure – (internship supervisor).

What’s next? Hopefully medicine and giving back to my community. If not, I definitely would continue my education within the faculty (PhD). I know I am in the right hands!  🙂

Tyler Cannon

Degree: PhD Microbiology and Immunology, studying the role of the gut-brain axis in Parkinson’s disease
Hometown: Brossard and Montreal

What I loved most about studying at McGill’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences: There’s definitely a lot to love. Being downtown in the heart of the city honestly never gets old to me (the trek up Peel gets a little old though, haha!). Even just being around campus feels surreal sometimes with the architecture and history that lingers in some of the old buildings. The appeal stretches beyond aesthetics, though. Academically, being in the Faculty really opened a lot of doors for me and I will always be thankful for having so many opportunities to attend conferences abroad and expand my research horizons. Collaboration, above all else, really underlined my grad school experience, and I have made a lot of life-long friends and colleagues along the way.

A scary (but proud) moment I’ll never forget: I’ll always remember being terrified to give public talks during my first year of grad school. Imposter syndrome is terrible and can be crippling to deal with. I know it’s so prevalent in grad school and something we collectively need to address (I’m still not sure how). I made it my goal to become a good presenter and lecturer and tried to do as many talks and presentations as I could. Whether I’m a good presenter now isn’t really for me to say, but I am really proud to say that I squashed that fear pretty fast – by the end, giving a talk was sort of fun and something I looked forward to.

What’s next? I started the MDCM program in September here at McGill. I’m really interested in becoming a clinician scientist and continuing research from a more ‘bench-to-bedside’ approach to directly impact patient health.

Edgar Ortiz-Brizuela

Degree: MSc in Epidemiology
Hometown: Mexico City

What I loved most about studying at McGill’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences: What I loved most about studying at the School of Population and Global Health was its community. In the MSc of Epidemiology and Public Health courses, students learn the principles underlying actionable research in health sciences immersed in an enriching environment where passionate teachers and brilliant students share experiences and ideas. The way professors teach courses and students commit themselves made me feel all of us shared the belief that a more just and healthier world needs more highly qualified health professionals who may build upon current research efforts and who will perpetuate the teaching-learning cycle.

A proud moment I’ll never forget: An unavoidable question that arises when entering the research world is whether, at some point, our efforts will be reflected in actions. A couple of months ago, my supervisor Dr. Dick Menzies invited me to take part in a research project commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO). We summarized the current evidence about some new tests for tuberculosis infection diagnosis. Our results were used by the WHO as a guide to their new recommendations concerning these tests. Studying at McGill convinced me that building a just and healthier world is not only possible, but at our fingertips, we just need to work hard to do our bit.

What’s next: I am currently a pursuing Ph.D. in Epidemiology at McGill where I aim to get all the tools needed to become an independent researcher. In the long term, I will continue working with tuberculosis and antimicrobial resistance focused on Latin American populations. I would also love to teach epidemiology methods to medical graduate and undergraduate students, and to the general public.

Joanna Li

Degree: MSc in Microbiology and Immunology
Hometown: Guangzhou, China

What I loved most about studying at McGill’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences: I love being surrounded by world-class researchers who are not only extremely knowledgeable in their research fields but have been very supportive of my academic training. It was also a pleasure to learn alongside peers from all over the world, who are all unique, brilliant scholars and friendly people.

A moment of uncertainty I’ll never forget: I will always remember the moment when it was announced that all classes were being moved online in March 2020, as I was a TA on the way to hold an in-person tutorial session for MIMM 214. During the rapid transition from in-person to online learning, McGill students were real troopers through it all, quick to adapt under very trying and uncertain circumstances. Special thanks to all the students in MIMM 214 and especially to Dr. Claire Trottier who facilitated a smooth transition.

What’s next: I am currently working as a research assistant at the Jewish General Hospital, but am also considering potential Ph.D. programs!

Nehal Islam

Degree: MSc in Epidemiology
Hometown: Ottawa & Dhaka, Bangladesh

What I loved most about studying at McGill’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences? I loved the supportive and collegial McGill community. I had the mentors I needed to turn dreams into achievements. My supervisor and research team’s encouragement equipped me with critical quantitative skills to evaluate emerging prescription drug safety questions. Faculty support in the School of Population Health and Global Health helped bring WeCanVax, a community initiative I co-founded to improve vaccine access in Montreal, to fruition. New lifelong friends have supported and motivated me throughout this time.

A proud moment I’ll never forget: My proudest moment was coming to McGill and graduating from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. My father arrived in Montreal as an asylum seeker 30 years ago, working as a dishwasher at a Milton-Parc restaurant. He would wear a McGill patch to pose as a student. Today, I fulfilled our shared goal of attending and earning a degree from McGill. Convocation is a celebration of my family’s achievement as much as it is mine.

What’s next? I have the honour of being in my first year of medical school here at McGill. Epidemiology taught me that I can help improve health, thousands at a time. I want to explore beyond the epidemiologic data to develop individual connections and better understand patient-level medicine. I can think of no other school I would trust more than McGill’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Science to help me develop the skills I need to become an outstanding physician.

Jace Jones-Tabah

Degree: PhD in Pharmacology
Hometown: Toronto

What I loved most about studying at McGill’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences: My favourite aspect of these past years studying and doing research at McGill has been the fantastic community of people that I have met, both professionally and socially. From my mentors to lab mates, fellow graduate students, and undergraduates, during my time at McGill I was really able to build a network of friends and colleagues that made my time here such a valuable experience.

A student group I’ll never forget: Though it’s not really a club per se, my favourite student group is without a doubt GAPTS (the Graduate Association of Pharmacology and Therapeutics Students). When I arrived in Montreal, not knowing anyone at McGill, the events they organized allowed me to meet other students and immediately feel welcomed in the department. Though we were a small department, everyone involved in GAPTS has worked hard year after year to build a social community for Pharmacology students, something that has been particularly challenging over the past two years, and everyone involved deserves remarkable credit for their tireless efforts.

What’s next: Since completing my PhD I have now started working as a postdoctoral fellow at the Montreal Neurological Institute, where I use patient-derived cellular models to study the genetic risk factors for Parkinson’s disease.

Laura Crump

Degree: MSc(A) Nursing
Hometown: Smooth Rock Falls, Ontario

What I loved most about studying at McGill’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences: I loved how many opportunities there are in the wider community at McGill. For example, getting to pursue research opportunities and attend conferences and talks that complemented my studies.

What’s next: I am working in a level three neonatal intensive care unit here in Montreal while also exploring other research opportunities related to my field of study as a nurse research coordinator.


Marla R. Rapoport and Matthew S. Goldsmith

Degrees: Marla: Chronic Pain Management Graduate Certificate; Matthew: MSc Dental Science
Hometown: Montreal

Workplace: Marla (McGill PT ’80): 1. Physiotherapist Kateri Memorial Hospital Centre; 2. Private home care physiotherapist in Montreal; 3. (Non paid): Physiotherapy clinical supervisor for McGill.

What we loved most about studying at McGill: Marla: The dynamic, diverse and dedicated professors and students. Matthew: The excellent professors, environment and the research team.

A proud moment I’ll never forget: Marla: I am proud of both my sons, and am excited to be graduating with my youngest son at the same time and at the same ceremony.

A scary moment I’ll never forget: Marla: It was really nerve wracking writing exams.  In my last course, I was in the same class as a few of my clinical students!

My fave study spot: Marla: I really appreciated having access to McGill Library for doing scholarly searches.

And a few shout outs…. Matthew: Professor Svetlana Komarova: without her giving me a chance, none of this could have been possible. Marla: I want to thank all the professors in the program, who were always available to answer questions.

What’s next: Marla: Continuing to work, accepting new challenges and using the skills I learned. Matthew: I am currently in Dentistry at McGill.

Jorge Luis Flores Anato

Degree: MSc Epidemiology
Hometown: Caracas, Venezuela and Montréal

What I loved most about studying at McGill’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences: One of the things I loved the most about my master’s was how helpful and supportive the EBOH faculty and administrative staff are. It was very nice to see how everyone in the department really wanted students to succeed and to feel included.

My fave study spot: Pre-pandemic, one of my favourite study spots was CHAI Tea Lounge. They have really good bubble tea and good music to concentrate (I’m pretty sure I’ve listened to their whole playlist a few times!). I haven’t been in a while but I’m happy to see it has opened up again as it was closed through most of the pandemic.

What’s next: I am sticking around at McGill for a bit longer! My thesis supervisor Professor Mathieu Maheu-Giroux hired me as a research assistant and I am very excited to continue working with him and the rest of the team on various projects ranging from COVID-19 to HIV.

Kayla O’Sullivan-Steben

Degree: MSc, Medical Radiation Physics
Hometown: Montreal

What I loved most about studying at McGill’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences: One of the great benefits is how closely intertwined the academic and clinical activities are with the MUHC. I got to learn directly from passionate healthcare professionals and patients while working hands on with state-of-the-art equipment used in the clinic. This made for a truly enriching and inspiring experience.

The together moments I’ll never forget: It’s impossible to think about notable moments from my degree without thinking of my fellow medical physics MSc cohort that I shared them with. Our classes all took place in the same small conference room with the same seven people. Together we experienced all the ups and downs of a graduate degree and helped motivate each other through long nights of studying and lab report writing. The highlight of my McGill journey was that I could do it alongside such amazing people who could turn even the most stressful moments into great memories.

What’s next: I’ve just started my PhD in Medical Physics at McGill, where I will focus on creating AI algorithms to improve radiotherapy outcomes. I’m looking forward to this next chapter and all the opportunities it will bring. McGill certainly hasn’t seen the last of me!

Rebecca MacCormack

Degree: MSc (Applied) in Communication Sciences and Disorders

What I loved most about studying at McGill’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences: My favourite part was the emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration. Meeting students from all different disciplines and learning about each other’s perspectives really helped to deepen my understanding of client-centred care!

My fave study spot: My favourite place to study was at Mamie Clafoutis on St-Denis. I lived in an apartment attached to the cafe, so it was super close by, always smelled like yummy bakery treats and the staff there were so friendly.

What’s next: I have moved to Ottawa and am working as a speech-language pathologist in community trauma rehabilitation.

Talia Sternbach

Degree: MSc, Epidemiology
Hometown: Albany, NY

What I loved most about studying at McGill’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences: The two things that really stood out for me during my degree were the people and the opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. I was lucky to be part of a collaborative and supportive cohort of students and friends that made assignments and thesis writing not only possible, but all the more enjoyable! I also joined a great project team towards my thesis research with ongoing opportunities to learn additional skills and pursue other areas of interest.

Some great memories I’ll never forget: I have great memories debating assignment answers and studying in the basement of Purvis Hall with classmates, and celebrating faculty, staff, and student birthdays with everyone at the Institute for Health and Social Policy. I also loved hiking ‘the Mountain’ (Mont Royal), no matter the weather, and helping our project team with fieldwork (pre-COVID) was also a highlight.

What’s next: I am thrilled to have started in the PhD Epidemiology program this fall in the School of Population and Global Health. It has been great getting to know my new cohort as we return to in-person learning.

Janie Coulombe

Degree: PhD in biostatistics
Hometown: Berthierville in Lanaudière

What I loved most about studying at McGill’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences: I really appreciated the motivation and energy of fellow students and professors in the EBOH Department. It made me feel energized throughout my studies at McGill. I also enjoyed all the encounters I had with professors from the Biostatistics program. They are all super nice, respectful, empathetic and genuinely interested in students. Finally, I was grateful to be part of such a strong department in the field. There are so many exciting ideas being generated over there! It is a beautiful experience to be part of it and surrounded by so many great researchers.

Fave everything spot: Our department is moving to Sherbrooke Street, but during my doctoral studies, I have been working at Purvis Hall. Most of the postgraduate students’ offices were in the basement of Purvis Hall, and this is the place where I had the most fun during my studies. That basement saw me through all my moods and PhD experiences. I recall the few hours before my comprehensive theoretical exam when I was singing The Final Countdown in the basement and sweating my fear. I remember numerous philosophical discussions with colleagues and friends about life and studies. I recall dressing for soccer games, going to the Reservoir field to play with fellow biostatisticians and epidemiologists, the fun holiday parties in Purvis Hall, and the weekly Biostatistics seminars, which were also our way of seeing everyone, chatting and getting the latest news. I will miss Purvis Hall and my colleagues very much!

What’s next: My PhD and other professional experiences taught me that I really love teaching and doing research. I am currently doing a postdoctoral research fellowship at McGill and am applying for Assistant Professor positions around Montreal. Wish me luck!

Jonah Gorodensky

Degree: MSc, Epidemiology

What I loved most about studying at McGill’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences: The McGill epidemiology program was a perfect program for me because I got to have full year of coursework followed by a year of thesis research, allowing me to get a well-rounded introduction to epidemiology and delve-deeper into one area of study. I really enjoyed how my peers and professors were all so passionate about what we were learning and the strong quantitative focus of the program.

A eureka moment I’ll never forget: Before the global pandemic, when I told people I studied epidemiology, they usually thought I was studying skin. Now everyone is talking about epidemiology all the time and I have been able to share what I’ve learned with my friends and family whenever they have questions. Even more, I was able to see epidemiologic research changing policy in real time, making my masters degree feel even more worthwhile.

What’s next: I’m working as a Research Professional at Analysis Group, an economics and healthcare consulting firm in Montreal. I have the fantastic opportunity to apply what I learned at McGill every day to a broad range of healthcare questions.


The Medicine & Health Sciences Fall Convocation in-person ceremony took place November 25 at Place des Arts. Check out the program here and the recording of the ceremony here.

Photos: Convocation photo: Owen Egan and Joni Dufour; all other photos provided by graduates.

November 25, 2021