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Meet Our Alumni: Delaram Farshad, Community Health Specialist

Community Health Specialist at Fraser Health

Before starting work at Fraser Health as a Community Health Specialist, Delaram Farshad worked for the Government of Nunavut as the Community Health Development Coordinator within the Kitikmeot region, which included supporting Inuit community initiatives that addressed health and well-being, providing resources between the government and communities, and boosting capacity in the community for these initiatives. She traveled to different communities in Nunavut over her two years there, and says it was an eye-opening experience, particularly working with Inuit populations and learning how important culture is to health and well-being.

In her current role with the Healthy Living Team, which aims to support municipalities to prioritize their health needs, improve their health and address the social determinants of health, Del works with medical health officers and executive directors to support the health promotion activities of communities in the region. Day to day, Del is involved in planning meetings and advisory committees, health promotion, and assessing health equity. She uses epidemiology, and found the Master of Public Health program taught her how to take a leadership role, and increased her knowledge and awareness of the core competencies in Public Health.

“It was very blubbery and very elastic.”

One of her more memorable work experiences was taking part in a community feast featuring whale meat. Inuit hunters head out to sea for three to four days every year, in accordance with environmental law, as part of a seasonal renewal celebration. The catch was announced on the local radio station, and the community gathered on the shore, where the whale meat was then distributed, Del says. She felt very grateful to be invited and to participate in the community. The more she participated, the more buy-in from the community when it came to her work.

Del was drawn to public health out of a desire to reduce health inequities, help people promote their own health and help communities prioritize their own health. The MPH program was a good fit for Del with her undergraduate degree in nutrition, her overseas experience working in Swaziland, Bolivia and India, and her passion for working with communities. In particular, the small cohort size, the expertise of the faculty and the practicum drew Del to the degree at UBC.

Graduating in 2013, Del’s advice to current students is to follow your passion and ask the hard questions. She knew there were vulnerable populations but didn’t know why some people had better access to certain things and others were disadvantaged. Answering this helped her in her career path.

“Ask the hard questions that you’re struggling to answer. Come up with better questions if not answers.”

Del is interested in academia and a PhD may be in her future. Her passion lies with global health and providing access to health to vulnerable populations, and she wants to continue working in this field. “I love working with communities and people.”

Del’s time at SPPH included organizing and captaining the School team for the Day of the Longboat, and being involved in the Public Stealth dodgeball team. Some of her closest friends are from her time at the program, and as a group they still try to take trips every weekend they can.