This interview was originally published in the Fall 2015 edition of The Beacon.
Photo of Christine Johnson. Photo Credit Tammy Briand.
The Beacon regularly features interviews with StFX University Alumni on the topic of their relationships with StFXAUT members who challenged, inspired, or helped in some way. This issue’s interview is with Christine Johnson (BSc ‘00).
Christine Johnson: My name is Christine Johnson and I’m currently working as the Health Equity Lead for the Nova Scotia Health Authority in Public Health. I am a registered dietician by background and studied Human Nutrition at StFX as well as Mount Saint Vincent University.
Philip Girvan: Very good — Now during your time at X was there any particular professor, or librarian, or lab instructor that helped you, inspired you, was a mentor to you?
Christine: Absolutely: it’s actually really hard to pick one, but one stands out in particular: Dr. Doris Gillis, Professor of Human Nutrition. The reason she stands out is because, as I was studying nutrition at StFX, I wasn’t really sure what avenue I wanted to pursue and I knew that I was interested in community health and the focus of what I was seeing on clinical nutrition and the health care system and therapeutic outcomes wasn’t quite what I was interested in pursuing. I was in my third year. At that point of time, she had just started part-time and she came in and did a guest lecture in research methods. She was talking about the People Assessing Their Health Project and it was the first time that I had ever really heard about participatory research – in particular participatory research that was done in a community setting around health and what actually determined health and what those broader factors are that make people healthy or not in a community setting. That was really when the lightbulb went off, and I thought “I do have a place in nutrition and dietetics”.
It really helped me see and set my path for where I wanted to go. That really is what inspired me to pursue a Master’s degree in Community Nutrition and focus on participatory research and food security. That was the original inspiration and I have continued to work with Doris. She sat on my supervisory committee for my Master’s degree and she has continued to be both a personal and professional mentor in the world of public health and nutrition.