PhD Student, Department of Public Health Sciences
“Having tailored supports for 2SLGBTQ+ people diagnosed with cancer would bridge a gap, and if providers had something they could refer patients to, that could help make such supports more prevalent as well”
Newfoundlander Lauren Squires hails from St. John’s, where she earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in psychology from Memorial University. “My initial intent was to become a clinical psychologist,” she explains. “But my master’s helped me realize I wanted to work on research that operates at the macro level—helping improve health services and break down systemic barriers.
“I’m queer myself, so I’ve always understood that people in my community don’t have great access to health care. When I heard about the Social and Behavioural Health Sciences program at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, it hit me that I could work in that area specific to cancer, and make an impact on a policy level.”
She hopes to contribute to an under-researched area: online support for 2SLGBTQ+ people diagnosed with cancer. The community already faces health barriers ranging from lack of family support to negative interactions with health-care providers. “Having tailored supports would bridge a gap,” she says, “and if providers had something they could refer patients to, that could help make such supports more prevalent as well.” She hopes to one day bring her research recommendations home. “In Atlantic Canada, being queer can still be very isolating because the communities are small,” she says. “The more supports we can give people online, the better, if they can access it.”
A former Royal Canadian Air Cadet, Squires has also volunteered with the program as a training officer. She also put in hours with Memorial’s MUN Intersections group, providing resources to marginalized students—everything from peer mentoring to free diapers to fundraising for bursary support. “I’m hoping to get involved throughout my time at U of T, for sure,” she says.
“I can’t be more grateful to the Irvings for giving me financial stability at a really important transitional period,” says Squires. “I tend to stress about things a lot, so the fellowship gave me peace of mind. To know that I could afford to live in student housing. That I could afford to eat well and afford to save money for next year. Coming to Toronto could have been really stressful, but because I got the fellowship, I felt confident.”