By Shannon Boklaschuk
Paige Daubenfeld has dreamed of becoming a doctor since she was a child.
That dream led her to enroll in health studies at the University of Saskatchewan (USask), a program that examines health and wellness from a variety of perspectives, including how biological, cultural, social and environmental contexts influence the health and well-being of the individual. She will now receive her Bachelor of Arts and Science (BA&Sc) honours degree in health studies at USask’s Spring Convocation in June.
“I am very excited to have reached this point in my academic career,” said Daubenfeld, who was raised on a grain farm outside St. Brieux, Sask. “I have always valued education and being able to achieve this goal is a great feeling. I am beyond thankful for all the support I have received from family and friends to help me reach this milestone.”
After completing high school in St. Brieux, Daubenfeld came to USask to study in the College of Arts and Science. Once she learned about the college’s health studies program, offered in the Department of Psychology and Health Studies, she was immediately drawn to its interdisciplinary nature. She decided to focus on the program’s individual, society and health option.
“I loved the idea of learning about a broad spectrum of perspectives and disciplines in university,” she said. “Besides the interdisciplinary approach of the health studies degree, the best part of the program is the caring nature of the professors, especially Dr. Ulrich Teucher. The professors were always available to meet and answer any course, program or career-related questions.”
A high-achieving student, Daubenfeld earned numerous scholarships and honours throughout her academic journey at USask, including the Chancellors’ Scholarship valued at $30,000. She was also included on the Dean’s Honour List, which recognizes undergraduate students whose grades rank in the top five per cent of those studying with a full course load in the College of Arts and Science.
During a college event on June 6, Daubenfeld will be honoured with the award for Most Outstanding Graduate in Health Studies as well as the University Medal in the BA&Sc Degree. She has been accepted into medical school at the University of British Columbia and will begin her studies there in August.
“My main advice for achieving academic success is to create study schedules that maximize effective studying and breaks,” she said. “I feel that quality of studying is superior to quantity of studying as it allows you to take more valuable breaks that leave you feeling rested to study again later.”
Under the supervision of Dr. Scott Napper (PhD), Daubenfeld completed an honours thesis that analyzed how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted vaccine attitudes in the USask population. A previous health studies student collected university students’ vaccine opinions before the COVID-19 pandemic and Daubenfeld then gathered students’ vaccine opinions after long-term pandemic exposure, with the aim of examining how opinions may have shifted. Daubenfeld and Napper are working on the project this summer and hope to publish their results.
Another health studies project that Daubenfeld took part in was choreographing a dance, known as a pas de deux, with her sister. The dance was created for Daubenfeld’s HLST 310 class and addressed the issue of climate change.
“I have noticed a disconnect between climate activists and experts, where arguing about the ‘truth’ has limited progress. I feel it is valuable to listen and collaborate with others, even if they hold opposing viewpoints, to solve problems like climate change,” she said. “The dance consisted of my sister and I working against one another initially and finally coming together in unison at the end to achieve success.”
Daubenfeld said that a particular highlight of her time as a USask student was her involvement with the College of Arts and Science’s Learning Communities program. Daubenfeld served as a peer mentor with the program for three years, and helped to ease students’ transitions from high school to university by assisting them in building community and networks and enriching their academic skills. She made many friends and connections through the experience, noting “I am certain I would not be where I am today without the program.”
Daubenfeld was involved in numerous other activities outside of the classroom, including serving as a mentor through Inclusion Saskatchewan. She also spent a year as a life science head Instructor for the non-profit organization Campbox YXE, which provides hands-on activities to children in Grades 4 to 6, and she tutored high school and university students in math and biochemistry to help them reach their academic goals.
“The best part of studying in the College of Arts and Science has been the people and friends surrounding me,” Daubenfeld said. “There are endless opportunities to network with professors, faculty and other students in the College of Arts and Science. The diverse nature of the college also allows you to learn from peers in different majors.”