Heather Moffatt

Small School Atmosphere Equals a Good Learning Environment

By Matthew Sheriko

Heather Moffatt is doing a Gerontology Certificate at St. Thomas University.

Though St. Thomas University is located in her hometown, Heather Moffatt’s journey to STU took a longer route. It happened after she discovered that its Gerontology Programme could satisfy her interest in our aging population.

She had studied Science at Bishops University before entering a Master’s in Science at the University of Calgary. It was there that she sparked an interest in gerontology.

“I was doing research in cancer biology,” she recalls. “I was actually working on a pediatric project so it was a bit different, but I learned about cell aging and cell senescence in relation to disease and cancer so I became interested in the aging body. When I saw that St. Thomas had a Gerontology Programme, it looked quite unique to me; it’s not offered at many universities.”

Moffatt is studying in the certificate programme. Despite a condensed schedule, she feels like she’s getting a broad understanding of the field.

“It’s been interesting coming to St. Thomas, especially after attending a bigger university, it’s been quite a change,” says Moffatt.

Faculty Devoted to the Education of Students

“The faculty are really devoted to the education of students and making sure the students are geared to enter the job force immediately, especially those in the certificate program. I found that coming home and having that small school atmosphere has been really great and fosters a good learning environment.”

In her studies, she’s gained more insight into the oldest demographic and wants to use that knowledge moving on to a possible career in medicine and would consider geriatrics as her specialty. She recognizes it as not a highly popular field among new doctors but she anticipates the need will only grow with an aging population.

“I was sort of on the fence when I came back home,” says Moffatt. “I didn’t know if I was going to try to find research work or go back to school. I spoke with department chair Dr. Gary Kenyon. I think that sitting down with any of the professors from the department would be really beneficial for any student considering a minor or a major in this programme. They will definitely provide you with a lot of insight into what the programme is all about and what you can get out of it as a student. Gary really took the time to walk me through the classes I would be taking, and what the experience would be like.”

She’s quick to recommend both the certificate programme, which she feels complements previous education and provides an extra edge of specialization, as well as the four-year programme. She admires the enthusiasm of the professors and the hardworking learning environment the programme offers.

“I think the programme should be proud and let more people know it’s here. It’s so great and it’s been really wonderful for me. I’m very impressed. I came from a graduate programme that was nationally recognized but I think this one is comparable in terms of the quality of education I’m getting.”