Alumni Spotlight: Griseel Crasto

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?

Grissel Crasto (HBSc 2012, BScN 2015)
Grissel Crasto (HBSc 2012, BScN 2015)

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.


Grissel Crasto (HBSc 2012, BScN 2015) is a nursing graduate of the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing. She also completed her Master of Nursing degree at Charles Sturt University in Australia. Grissel has worked in inpatient Neurology, Epilepsy and Neurosurgery at Toronto Western Hospital for over 6 years and recently transitioned in a health leadership role as an Advanced Practice Nurse Educator for Perioperative Services also atToronto Western Hospital. She was a recent recipient of the Toronto Academic Health Sciences Network's CAP Fellowship Awards and has been actively involved in research and quality improvements initiatives at the University Health Network.
Grissel has taught neuroscience nursing in the inpatient setting and works as a Clinical Education Consultant at the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing. She also serves as a Councillor for the Ontario Central Chapter at the Canadian Association of Neuroscience Nurses and was recently inducted as a health leader into the Sigma Theta Tau International Honour Society of Nursing. In her spare time, Grissel volunteers on the University Health Network's Clinical Policy and Practice Committee and Professional Nursing Practice Council. She also mentors nursing staff and student nurses at both UHN and UofT.
Grissel's current research interests involve knowledge translation for patient education and interprofessional collaboration, and issues affecting access and support to quality patient care. Grissel published her first study on the complexities of nursing care for patients with anti-NMDAR encephalitis in 2019 and is currently working on her second publication on a tool developed to improve peri-ictal assessments of patients in the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit at Toronto Western Hospital. She is currently working on various projects to develop patient education for Trigeminal Neuralgia and other surgeries at Toronto Western Hospital.