The 2019 Arbor Awards Recognize Outstanding Alumnae

November 6/2019

By Françoise Makanda, Communications Officer at DLSPH

Alumnae Elsa Cabral, Alison Crepinsek and Julie Foisy received an Arbor award last month, a recognition for their volunteer work at DLSPH.

The Arbor Awards recognize alumni who personify the very best attributes of the University’s motto, Velut Arbor Aevo – May it grow as a tree through the ages. It celebrates individuals who have served to anchor its traditions and spread its mission.

Each year, DLSPH celebrates volunteers with this honour. This year’s recipients shared their thoughts on their recognition.

Elsa Cabral (middle) 30th University of Toronto Arbor Awards ceremony and reception at the Carlu, Toronto ON, October 10, 2019.
Photo credit: Gustavo Toledo Photography

“I am always amazed that people take the time to acknowledge and recognize the contributions of their colleagues, friends and peers. I am very grateful for the recognition and for the efforts that it took some of the busiest people I know to send in my nomination,” says Elsa Cabral.

A few years ago, Cabral started thinking about giving back to DLSPH with the purpose of contributing her time and leverage her experience. She is currently working on innovative solutions that will transform healthcare service delivery models using intelligent automation.

It started with a workshop for the OEH program, where she prepared students for their job search. Shortly after, she became a mentor and a member of the alumni association.

“My career experience is broad and deep and, for many years, I have been in leadership positions where attracting, recruiting, and developing other professionals is a critical part of my role.  The mentorship program was a natural fit,“ says Cabral.

As a member of the DLSPH community, Cabral believes that the community as a whole should think about how we all collectively contribute to the future of public health. The successes and experiences of the community advance public health globally.

“It doesn’t matter how much you contribute – if every alumni made a contribution in some shape or form – the sum of these contributions will have an exponential positive impact.  It is never too early or too late to start,” says Cabral.

Alison Crepinsek

Alison Crepinsek also got involved with the DLSPH community through the mentorship program after an alumnus invited her to get involved during the early beginnings of the program.

“They reached out asking if I wanted to mentor a student in Health Promotion and I quickly saw how many former classmates, colleagues and friends were getting involved,” says Crepinsek.

“I guess you could say I followed the lead of others, but I’m so glad I did.”

Since graduating from the MPH-Health Promotion program in 2011, she has been involved with the PHAA. Soon after, she served as PHAA’s Outreach Officer and Co-Chair of the Mentorship Program from 2016-18.

“I’ve loved seeing the growth of the program since it’s early days and having the opportunity to take on a range of roles as an alumna,” says Crepinsek.

Although her work has strayed her away from public health over the last few years, her goal is to come back to the university community and perhaps entertain more schooling. If you’re going to give back, Crepinsek says, do it for the students. She encourages alumni to think back when they were studying at DLSPH and how valuable it was to connect and learn from the broader community.

“You don’t have to have an answer or a solution for everything, but you’re one additional resource and support for someone who is navigating their graduate studies,” says Crepinsek.

Julie Foisy (middle) 30th University of Toronto Arbor Awards ceremony and reception at the Carlu, Toronto ON, October 10, 2019.
Photo credit: Gustavo Toledo Photography

“I give back because, to me, there isn’t an alternative. When I was working towards the MPH degree, student colleagues, faculty, and alumni—they all supported me,” says Julie Foisy.

Foisy is one of the few alumni who lives and breathes DLSPH. After graduating, Foisy became a staff member at DLSPH.

“I had what I viewed as the “dream job” at DLSPH for several years—supporting both MPH students in their first practicum search, oftentimes their first foray into the field of public health, and also the alumni association, watching those same students transform into public health professionals and contribute to the field in their own right.”

After stepping down from her administrative role, she took the helm of the DLSPH’s Public Health Alumni Association where she supported initiatives to engage DLSPH alum. She was also a mentor for the DLSPH/PHAA mentorship program. Foisy says she speaks with alumni regularly and her message is the same–join the mentorship program, go to PHAA events and volunteer for the PHAA board.

“In the Mentorship program, the students will teach you as much, or more, than what you can teach them. PHAA events profile cutting edge topics and offer the opportunity to connect with past colleagues and create stronger and larger networks—all benefiting public health. Volunteer on the PHAA Board or committees and have the opportunity to work with star alumni doing fascinating work across Canada.”

Congratulations to our Alumnae!