MA (Family Studies & Gerontology)
The Nova Scotia Centre on Aging is housed in a small white building on College Road on the Mount Saint Vincent University campus. And Sacha Nadeau has called this neat, unassuming building her second home since she began her graduate program in Family Studies and Gerontology at the Mount. She began as a part-time student assistant; now, Sacha has completed her degree, and she works as the Atlantic Site Coordinator for Advice-Seeking Networks in Long-term Care at the Centre. She works with community members, government, and researchers and faculty members at the Mount on projects and applied studies on age-related issues.
Discovering Strengths and Building Skills
Before beginning her Master’s studies, Sacha earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology in New Brunswick. She applied to the Mount’s Master of Arts in Family Studies and Gerontology because, she says, “I was passionate about the field of aging.”
When Sacha started her program, she was relatively new to the field of gerontology. However, the program allowed her to gain direct experience in the field immediately. She began working part-time as the Centre for Aging’s Project Assistant. “I was thrilled to begin working at the Centre” she says, in a position that “allowed me to learn about and support various research activities—helping me discover my interests and strengthen a variety of skills.”
Later, Sacha began work as a Research Assistant with the Care and Construction project. “This was by far the most influential experience during my time at the Mount,” she says. “This project taught me about successful collaboration with multiple stakeholders, various methodological approaches, as well as many critical parts of a research project including data collection, coding, entry and analysis and disseminating findings to various audiences. I was delighted to use the data from this project for my thesis, and explore a question I had developed during my time in the field.”
And throughout her program, Sacha continued to find ways to get involved in the field and develop her professional skills and networks, volunteering with community organizations, even attending and presenting at the Canadian Gerontology Association (CAG) annual conference, where she was recognized for the top Master’s research poster.
Performing Relevant Research, and Translating Essential Knowledge
In the future, Sacha hopes to stay engaged in applied health research related to aging, and particularly in research on quality of life in nursing homes. But one of the most important aspects of her profession, she says, has been discovering Knowledge Translation—making important research easily accessible and understandable to people outside of the research community. She is looking forward to a career that allows her to perform important research in the field of aging, and to make her studies available to the public: to professionals in the field of gerontology, as well as to people who are directly affected by issues that relate to aging and quality of life.
“This degree has enhanced my theoretical knowledge and my critical thinking and research skills. My time at the Mount has provided me with many invaluable work and networking opportunities that have increased my knowledge of the field.”