Growing up in Saskatoon, Rathwell didn’t see very many Indian-Canadian kids that looked like her on her neighbourhood playground. It wasn’t until she began her time at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) studying anthropology that she noticed more Asian representation around her.
Rathwell is currently employed at her alma mater as a project lead with the Urban Public Health Network in the USask Department of Community Health and Epidemiology.
“I’m lucky to work with a diverse research team at USask, and we have quite a bit of Asian representation in our research group and I see a lot of representation in community health and epidemiology in general,” she said, adding that she thinks there’s always room for more representation at all levels of research design and leadership.
She said she’s had a very positive experience being an Asian researcher at USask, but there are times when she’s faced with the stereotype of being a young, timid, and quiet Indian woman.
“There have definitely been times in my career when I haven’t felt like my voice is being heard,” Rathwell said. “Luckily, I have had several bosses, mentors, and teammates that have encouraged me to speak up over the years and value my experience.”
She encourages other Asian students wanting to pursue a career in community health and epidemiology to “reach out and get involved.”
“There’s so much interesting research happening across the university,” she said. “I wish as a student I had expressed my interest in and joined more research teams at USask.”