How to have a better, healthier life

- April 30, 2018

Health Promotion student Kendra Slawter. (Danny Abriel photos)
Health Promotion student Kendra Slawter. (Danny Abriel photos)

First-year student Kendra Slawter was accepted into Health Promotion right out of high school, but she took a few years to work before pursuing her degree.

“I knew I wanted to do something in the health professions,” she says. “After high school, I tried different things but health just kept coming back up.”

When she first decided to come to Dal, it was with the intention of eventually going into Nursing. Kendra was working at the hospital so she began talking with nurses about the work. The more she learned the more she realized Nursing wasn’t a good fit for her.

At the same time, her Health Promotion courses were really starting to interest her. “I realized I actually enjoy Health Promotion. I didn’t really know what to expect until I started taking the courses but it’s really helped open my eyes.”

Connecting the classroom with her own experience

One of the reasons Kendra’s enjoying the program so much is that she can relate it to her own experiences. For example, what she’s learning about the social determinants of health reflects her own motivation for attending university.

“Education is the best thing you can do for yourself to give yourself a better life,” she says. “I want to be able to financially support myself one day doing something I’m passionate about.”

Kendra finds she can already apply what she’s learning in class to her work as a porter in the hospital. While moving patients around the hospital, she gets to interact with a variety of people including those with chronic illnesses. Thanks to her courses, she now appreciates how illness can be related to income level or access to nutritious food.

“I can really start to understand why they might be in this situation,” she says. “There are so many systemic barriers that can get in the way of leading a healthy life.”

She’s also making connections to work she’s done in her community. Kendra used to help out in the daycare and is learning just how valuable that is. “Right now, we're talking about early childhood development so we’re learning that the first few years of your life are important — if a child grows up without being taught how to be sociable that can affect them when they’re older.”

Right where she wants to be

On a personal level, the most relevant thing Kendra is learning is the importance of stress management.

“You really have to make sure that you're taking time for your own self,” she acknowledges. “University is really challenging. And where I took four years to get to university from being out of high school, it can be really overwhelming. So, there are times when I get anxious thinking about all the things I have to do. And it's even more stressful because I’m paying money to be here.”

Kendra finds the biggest struggle for her is time management. She’s participated in a few study skills workshops but admits that finding the time to take advantage of the resources is part of the problem. “Every hour of the day is so crucial. If you miss out on one hour you lose out on all of the work you could have been doing on a paper or an assignment.”

Though it’s hard work, Kendra still feels she’s right where she needs to be.

“Now that I’m back in school, I'm in a position where I'm able to better myself and that's what Health Promotion is all about — how to have a better, healthier life.”

Ideally, once she’s completed Health Promotion in 2021, Kendra would like to be able to explore the area of health law. “I’ve always been passionate about health care and law. So, my first goal is to finish my degree in Health Promotion and then maybe I’ll apply to Law so I can combine the two.”


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