Jenny Flagler-GeorgePhD graduate | Sociology

Until the fourth year of her undergraduate degree, Jenny Flagler-George thought she was going to be a lawyer.

Then she had an epiphany. “I’d done work in law and in policy, and it was the work in health care issues that really caught me,” she says. “I thought I could make more tangible change working on the policy side, rather than having to work with law and policy as it already existed.”

That realization led Jenny to graduate work with Waterloo’s Department of Sociology and Legal Studies. During her MA, a research assistantship with Alicja Muszynski studying hate crimes against African community members in the Region of Waterloo led her to realize that many immigrant women had difficulties accessing health care, for themselves and for family members. She wrote her PhD dissertation on the issues they face as caregivers trying to navigate the health care system, in a new country and often a new language.

“As the community ages, it’s going to be a growing concern,” notes Jenny. “As a newcomer you may have a social network back where you come from, but when you arrive here it’s just you and you often don’t know what resources are available.”

Today, she’s the manager of planning for the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network (LHIN). There, among other projects, she works on the region’s three-year strategic plan. Her job involves quantitative research, but she especially likes introducing qualitative research, like focus groups, to the process: “Numbers can tell you one thing, but they can’t tell you why or how people have experienced things, so I really like bringing in a qualitative complement.”

Throughout both her graduate degrees, Jenny knew she’d love to work at the LHIN, and she kept her eye on their job listings. She found her way in through a maternity leave contract, and the LHIN kept her on. “You read a lot that you have to network and do more than just apply to postings, and I was networking and covering my bases, but you still have to look for postings. And you have to be persistent.” To grad students considering jobs outside academia, Jenny highly recommends Waterloo’s alumni career advisors. “Tanya Gillert was so, so helpful with reframing my skillset. A lot of our skills are transferable, but we don’t always know how to make them read as transferable.”