Robyn Freiheit, BKin’15
Robyn Freiheit resides in Porto, Portugal, where she is completing a graduate degree in Public Health at the Instituto De Saúde Pública Da Universidade Do Porto (ISPUP). She is also volunteering as a regional rep for alumni UBC. Robyn discusses what led her to make a career shift and what she learned in the process.
Tell us about your role
I am currently a Master of Public Health candidate at the University of Porto in Portugal. I have been interested in public health for quite some time due to the interdisciplinary nature of the field and the opportunity to help others and make a positive change. I am focusing my thesis on food insecurity in the Açores islands in Portugal - in an attempt to better understand the "why" to the problem and with the hope of influencing future research and policy efforts. I love studying this subject due to its interdisciplinary nature - involving health, policy, sustainable food systems, supply-chains, etc.
Describe a situation where you have had to navigate change in your career
My professional trajectory took a big leap of faith this year. For the past five years I have been working in project management and account management roles, while also taking on freelance work in marketing strategy. As much as I was comfortable in my career, I became uneasy in my roles as they were not satisfying my need to make a larger impact in the social issues around me. It was a “now or never” urge that I had to fulfill, and much consideration went into the decision to take the leap.
What did you learn about yourself from that experience?
This decision came with a fair share of self-doubt. Would I be accepted into the program with experience in a completely different field? Would people in the industry accept me making a change in a country I was not a national of? After some heart-to-hearts with family and trusted mentors, I came to the realization that there was value to my diverse experience and international viewpoint. There is no cookie-cutter for what makes a person suitable for x career. Our strength is our uniqueness and drive.
Do you have any advice for someone who is experiencing change in their career?
Trust your gut and keep looking forward. If you have the curiosity or passion for something, you will make it work. Be confident in your decision and always remember the “why” to what you’re doing (especially when times get tough). Don’t doubt what you are capable of achieving.
What opportunities arose from navigating change?
Since moving to Portugal nearly three years ago, I have been gifted with immense opportunities for new experiences and learning moments. I feel that we grow the most as individuals when we are out of our comfort zones, and my entire experience living abroad and navigating change has been just that. In trying something new and living my truth – even when that meant taking a risk or getting uncomfortable – I have opened many doors to be my best self and continue to evolve.
What three words of wisdom, would you like to share with other alumni as they navigate their career?
Trust the journey.