Arany Sivasubramaniam

PhD student, Aging, Health and Well-being

For her doctoral research, Arany is looking at how to abolish the medical industrial complex by looking at the experiences of Black and Indigenous people as well as people of colour (BIPOC). Using abolitionist politics, Aranys research is looking at ways that we can start to dismantle our understanding of health and care to create healthy communities so that every being can meet their fundamental needs.

Working with Professor Kim Lopez during her masters, Arany looked at long-term care legislation and cultural inclusion for the BIPOC community. These institutions were not set up, nor typically run, with consideration of these different lenses of lived experience. As she approached the completion of her masters, Arany knew that there were more questions to be answered and more work to be done to move the needle in this space. This persuaded her to continue into her PhD and use this research as the foundation for her doctoral research.

Arany Sivasubramaniam

"Health care is more than just a career for me. It's my passion. That's why I chose the PhD Aging, Health and Well-being program." 

Real-world experiences and higher education come together

For as long as she could remember, Arany always volunteered or worked in health care. “I’ve always enjoyed being involved in health care and helping people in various ways." Her first job after graduating from her bachelor’s degree was as a Recreation Aide for a long-term care home. Arany continued to build her career in healthcare but always felt that something was missing. Returning to advanced education is helping her fulfill her desire to keep learning and making a difference in the path that she’s chosen. “That’s why I chose the Aging, Health and Well-being doctoral program, health care is more than a career for me, it’s my passion.” Arany balances her PhD with her work as a Recreation Therapist and Intake Coordinator at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. Being able to connect the dots between a real-world context and what she’s investigating through her research has really created a virtuous circle from which her research is enriched by her real-world experiences and her day-to-day work is informed by her research and higher education.

Strong relationships with supervisors and the department

Professors Kim Lopez and Lisbeth Berbary have been supervising her throughout her doctoral studies. Feeling supported by two outstanding researchers has really helped Arany navigate through her studies. “They are different people with different approaches, but that makes it a really rich experience for me. They’re like my academic parents! We have a good relationship where not all conversations are about academics.” The layering of different perspectives and conversations is what Arany credits to her strong relationship with her supervisors and in turn, the rich relationship she has with the department. Arany will complete all three of her degrees in the department of Recreation and Leisure Studies. “We have some of the best leisure scholars in the world, so where could you learn better from?! That’s what drives me to continue my education here.”

As for what’s next, Arany sees herself as always being an active participant tackling anti-racism  and wants to help make policy changes to create  more just environments for individuals and communities navigating healthcare systems.

Thinking of graduate studies? Aranys advice for future graduate students looking to find a supervisor:

Its important to find people that you think similarly to. Its important to be comfortable with them and communicate your needs with them, it makes you feel supported and this whole process less overwhelming.

We have some of the best leisure scholars in the world, so where better could you learn from?! Thats what drives me to continue my education in the department of Recreation and Leisure Studies.

ARANY SIVASUBRAMANIAM, PhD student, Aging, Health and Wellbeing