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Made to be multidisciplinary

Kristina Kasparian, BSc’07, PhD’15

Consultant, writer, and health activist

Kristina Kasparian, BSc’07, PhD’15; Consultant, writer, and health activist

My field of research is at the crossroads of psychology, linguistics, neuroscience, and education. After completing a BSc in Psychology at McGill, I went on to pursue an interdisciplinary European MSc that introduced me to research on the multilingual brain. Although I suspected from the start of my BSc that I wasn’t extremely interested in a tenure-track position, I was motivated to do a PhD in my field because I was so passionate about my research topic and its implications. I was proud to return to McGill for my PhD at the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

During my PhD, I was fortunate to have a supportive supervisor who provided rigorous scientific training as well as guidance on important soft skills. In terms of financial support, both the Tomlinson Fellowship (McGill) and the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship (CIHR) allowed me to be fully funded for most of my PhD.

My graduate school experience was enriching because I deliberately sought out diverse activities based on my multiple interests and strengths. Some of these activities included leading a weekly Academic Writing Group, developing resources for the McGill Writing Centre, organizing events, volunteering with SKILLSETS, and writing for the University’s graduate student blog. I also signed up for an extra Language Acquisition specialization jointly offered by the departments of Linguistics, Psychology and Education, which gave me the opportunity to take research courses across disciplines and broaden my expertise.

During graduate school, I launched my own shop selling home decor created out of my travel photography. I took business and marketing courses in my downtime (what downtime?!) and unexpectedly fell in love with entrepreneurship which, in many ways, is similar to conducting research.

All of these interests and experiences have been essential for my career post-graduation, as I found a way to merge my passions for writing, scientific research, entrepreneurship, event organization, and helping others in the work that I do.

If I were to give my younger self any advice, I would tell her: Don’t judge the path by where it should lead or should have led you. Everything you experience is useful for what comes next, whatever that is.”

I now own and run two businesses. The first, Veni Etiam Photography, is my brand of travel photography and home decor. The second, Momentum Emporium, offers a slew of consulting services (copywriting, translation, editing, marketing and branding, etc.) for entrepreneurs, academics, and scientists. It is extremely gratifying to offer these services and to work on a diverse range of projects. I feel like my brain continues to grow and learn every day, both within and outside my comfort zone. 

I am also a writer and activist for social justice in healthcare, especially for misunderstood conditions like endometriosis. Having suffered in silence with my own health for decades, I finally summoned up the courage to cast stigma and shame aside and to be open about my struggles with the hope of helping those who have not yet found their voice or the right medical treatment. There are many serious barriers in the medical system and in society that prevent endometriosis sufferers from receiving a diagnosis and adequate care. I collaborate with organizations and activists worldwide to improve the standards of care for endometriosis. My non-fiction writing about wellness, belonging, and social justice has been featured in national newspapers, magazines and other publications. I authored a book to help others rebuild their life and find a way to thrive on their own path, despite a disability like endometriosis.

I have always known that I was unconventional in my interests and my working style, but it took time for me to accept this and to carve out a path that builds on all the skills I’ve collected along the way, while also respecting the lifestyle changes I needed to make for my personal wellness.

If I were to give my younger self any advice, I would tell her: Don’t judge the path by where it should lead or should have led you. Everything you experience is useful for what comes next, whatever that is. It’s okay if the path twists and winds, and if you can’t see what’s next, or if you want to change your course, often. Although many well-intentioned people may have ideas and opinions about where your path should lead and why, ultimately, you are the one who is doing the walking.

This story was adapted from an interview conducted by TRaCE McGill. Click here to read Kristina’s full interview.