PhD Candidate, University of Toronto

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I love that each day I go to bed having learned something new.

Kristina Marie Kokorelias

What do you do?

I spend my days reading, teaching, writing and learning across a variety of topics including dementia, caregiving and research methods.

Why did you choose this field?

I have always had a tendency to focus on the most marginalized individuals throughout my studies. I always struggled with the idea that the provision of care in one case often is applied to other cases, especially when considering marginalized groups of individuals. As a Gerontology student, I was trained to always focus on ‘person-centered care’, as the gold standard. As I began work with the local Alzheimer's society I began hearing stories from family caregivers. I realized they too were marginalized. I decided that a career in research would be the best way to advocate for them. The biggest misconception is that being a researcher means being stuck in a lab and not having any direct ties towards improving patient care, experiences, health service programs or individual quality of life. In reality, health system issues that affect patients’ and caregivers' wellbeing are what drive my work.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

Beginning my PhD program after being told I wouldn't succeed in my applications.

Why do you love working in STEM?

No two days are the same. I love that each day I go to bed having learned something new. I also love knowing I have the ability to get good evidence that includes the voices of those with lived experience into the right hands of so many people so that it can support the health care system to find new ways to help people living with disability and their caregivers.

Best advice for next generation?

Not all research is done in a lab. Often, I spend my days working with caregivers, families, patients, clinicians and health service leaders and decision-makers on finding ways research can better support their health system experiences.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

"If it's meant to be, it's up to me"

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