Antu Hossain had her first "aha" moment when she was only 19.
In the summer of her second year at U of T Scarborough, Hossain spent a summer volunteering in Kenya as a health project manager, part of a U of T-run student international development club, now known as Partners for International Development.
“I wanted to get more hands-on experience of what health looked like outside of the classroom. I got that, and for me that was my life-changing experience from a really young age,” says Hossain.
“That’s when I realized I really wanted to pursue health equity.”
Hossain completed her undergraduate degree in 2015 and then pursued her master's degree. On Thursday, she will be part of U of T's Class of 2017 when she receives her Master of Public Health from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health.
For Hossain, public health is about much more than health care – it’s about advocating for community needs and having a real impact.
Hossain’s time as a graduate student at U of T included placements in a remote community in Labrador, where she worked on improving child health, and in Vienna, where she worked at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, focusing on prisoner heath.
Both experiences challenged her to better understand inequities in health, and how advocacy can help reduce some barriers.
“As much as it is pushing for government to do something, your voice matters as well,” says Hossain. “Public health professionals have the privilege of speaking with community, engaging in those narratives and bringing them to the table.”
Hossain has utilized every opportunity she’s had to help move the dial on the public health issues about which she’s most passionate.
Earlier this year, she was selected to represent her federal riding as part of Daughters of the Vote – a multipartisan, Canada-wide initiative to acknowledge and celebrate women’s suffrage. In the three-minute speech she gave to Parliament’s Standing Committee on the Status of Women, Hossain spoke about migrant detention in Canada and how women are disproportionately affected.
Hossain hopes to continue applying the research and policy skills she gained from her time at Dalla Lana as she seeks opportunities after graduation. Ultimately, she plans on making the world a better place for racialized, migrant women.
“I want to continue trying to improve the health inequities that exist, not just within Toronto but also worldwide.”