A tale of two co-ops

Thursday, March 29, 2018

by Mona Qutub, AHS AmbassadorJuliane Koropeski

Public Health is everywhere, whether it involves creating a website as a health and wellness resource or providing students experiencing a mental health crisis the resources they need.

Juliane Koropeski didn’t always know how multi-disciplinary and broad Public Health was. It wasn’t until after she began her program and took on two very different co-op terms that she began to understand the depth of the field.

Public Health in human resources

Koropeski’s first co-op job was at the international engineering and project management firm Amec Foster Wheeler where she took on an administrative position in the company’s Human Resources department.

She was initially unsure as to what to expect from working in this department. Koropeski ended up learning more than she could ever imagine after developing a Health and Wellness website. It provided employees with valuable information on nutrition, physical activity, ergonomics, retirement and parenting resources, and chronic disease.

One of the coolest things she had the chance to do during this co-op term was visit the largest nuclear power plant in the world, the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station. Koropeski saw first-hand how safety policies and procedures were put in place to scan and test employees for how much radiation they’ve been exposed to.

Public Health on campus

Exploring another field in Public Health, Koropeski got her second co-op job working for Counselling Services at the University of Waterloo. She contributed to improving students’ mental health and well-being on campus. This was a challenging co-op work term for her, but also very rewarding.

The Public Health program at Waterloo looks at health from multiple perspectives. Biology isn’t the only thing that determines illness. Social, cultural, political, and geographical conditions play a pivotal role in individual and population health.

From two co-op experiences directly related to her program, Koropeski was exposed to many different disciplines that all play a critical but different role in shaping the health and well-being of individuals and communities.

The future?

Koropeski aspires to use her experiences and knowledge in Public Health to tackle some of the most pressing Public Health challenges in chronic disease prevention.