Grissel Crasto is an 2012 UTM Biology Alumni. Recently, she sat down with us for an interview reflecting of her sterling ten years career.
Do you have any stories from your undergrad at UTMBiology?
UTM was a brilliant campus to attend, the perfect mix of UofT's academic culture embedded in the heart of Credit Valley and now home to an ecologically conscious campus with inspiring modern architecture. As a Mississauga native, I wanted nothing more than to leave Mississauga for my undergrad, but coming to this campus was a great decision for so many reasons. It was small enough to feel a sense of community and big enough to expose oneself to a plethora of culture, diversity, complexity and life changing experiences. The academic opportunities, student groups and campus life made my experience a memorable one, one that I will always cherish. It wasn't perfect and that was okay because those imperfections helped shape me and my resilience over the years.
What advise you would give your undergrad self? And what advise you would give current undergrads?
Reach out to people more and look for more resources. Ask more questions, attend more office hours. I didn't do this as much in my first couple of years as I did in my last couple of years. Failures are ultimately nothing more than stepping stones to success. Learn from them and keep going. Be kind to yourself and keep your head up.
Why would future students choose Biology at UTM?
Dr. Monika Havelka changed my life in UTM Biology. She taught us BIO153 and I instantaneously knew I belonged. She was kind, thoughtful, graceful, funny and shared her love of the sciences, particularly biology with us. She made every student feel special, cared deeply and role modelled the kind of teacher I wanted to be one day. I enjoyed her classes very much and so much of who I am today is thanks to her teaching and mentoring. Thank you Dr. Havelka!
What inspired you to choose the nursing program and how did you chose Australia for your next degree?
I used the job shadowing program at the UTM Career Centre to explore various careers that Life Science students often pursue. I realized none of the careers I explored through the program were a good fit for me. I did end up volunteering in a specialized program at a hospital all the way in Toronto because it involved working with the older adults through the Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP) doing activities beneficial to their physical, emotional, spiritual and mental well being. I met an inspiring nursing specialist, Senait Werkelul, who led the program along with an occupational therapist. She inspired me with her grace and expertise. I had a close friend who also recognized that personality wise I am very nurturing, caring and considerate, so he recommended that I explore nursing as potential career pathway. I applied to the accelerated nursing program after my undergraduate degree and got into the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing where I completed my BScN. Charles Sturt University offered the unique possibility of completing a generalized MN degree that allowed me the option of learning both the Clinical Education stream and the Health Leadership stream simultaneously. It was also offered completely online, this was vital as I was a working RN in inpatient practice, research and teaching. Learning online provided flexibility with working in the hospital, doing research and teaching.
What do you like most in your current career?
I enjoy working with patients and working with interprofessional teams in general. I worked for 6 years in Neurology, Epilepsy and Neurosurgery as an inpatient Registered Nurse at the University Health Network. I did research, quality improvement and taught students in the same specialty. I was fortunate to work with extraordinary senior nursing staff and interprofessional staff who mentored me and taught me everything that I know. I explored various leadership and academic opportunities like policy development and quality improvement as well during this period. It left me wanting more, so I completed my Master of Nursing degree and now work as an Advanced Practice Nurse for all of Perioperative Services at Toronto Western Hospital, University Health Network. This is a health leadership role that combines my love for teaching with policy development, research, quality improvement, interprofessional collaboration and more. It's a little less patient interaction, something I miss very dearly, but it's a new chapter and I am thrilled to learn and grow in the role.