Stefanie Kuzmiski, BSc’12, MSc’14

What was your first job after graduation?

After graduating from UBC in 2012 I moved to Montreal and worked for A.D.A.M Health Solutions as a Quality Assurance Analyst. I’m not sure I totally knew what that meant when I applied for the job, but I knew that I wanted to work in healthcare education, so for that it was certainly a great place to get my foot in the door. I ended up reviewing programs for content accuracy and visual consistency. I think a lot of QA positions end up being more computer science related. But this job was perfect for me and gave me a real taste of the work that goes into producing a multimedia educational program, from writing, editing, sound production, art directing, animation, app developing, project management and Quality assurance. Now, with my freelance work, I often have to take on all these roles at once.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

During my Masters my thesis focused on the efficacy of 3D animations in teaching molecular biology to the general public. I think in terms of career goals, in 5 years I would love to build off of that research experience and continue to look at better ways to teach science, both in the context of university education, but also to the general public at large. Whether that means starting a PhD or working with a company that is more involved with research, I think that engaging with this aspect of medical education will allow for my work to be better informed and serve my own clients’ needs in a more focused manner.

I have lots of personal goals as well. Some are to simply paint more for myself, learn to spin pottery with my mom, practice French, and of course, the big one is to pay down my student loans. I’m also really hoping to learn to code in the coming year. There is a wonderful community in Toronto called Girl Geeks, which is really such an amazing project that is trying to open up male-dominated tech industries to women and girls.

What was your 'aha' moment?

I was taking a cell biology class and the professor had made an animation to help explain cellular transport. It was made with clip art and PowerPoint, so it was very crude and I thought it was a great idea but could have been improved a lot. I went home and decided to make my own visuals. At that point I didn’t have any digital illustration experience so I made a lot of comic strips and pictorial mind-maps. I later found the work of Drew Berry and David Goodsell, and it helped me to realize the possibilities of molecular visualization to teach others about the unseen complexities of the world.

What did you envision your job or career to be when you started university?

When I started university I was in a physics program. I realized, partly through my own experience with the health care system, partly because of a real lack of other women in my physics program, and for a whole host of other reasons, I wanted to find other options. I became more interested in medicine and community involvement. I started taking visual arts classes and really wanted a way to combine my interests and that was how I ended up thinking about Integrated Sciences.

If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?

I think there isn’t much I would change because I’m really happy with where I’ve ended up. I think I would maybe try to make that path a little easier by actually asking for help when I needed it, and really taking advantage of the support systems within the university – study aids, financial aids, and academic advising – that I don’t think I fully realized existed until I was in my Masters.