From Nail Polish Restrictions to the Study of Public Relations

When Shanna Callaghan, a young Canadian woman, heard from someone in her course on infection prevention in control says, “There are nail polish restrictions in this profession to continue doing your work,” she said to herself,

“I felt restrictive; I felt that I couldn’t do that. That was not the feeling for me, although I love Science, and the medical field, I could not do that, that was where I changed my mind.”

When Callaghan chose to study Biological Science eight years ago, she thought that this career would help her achieve the personal and professional fulfillment she had been looking for. However, as she progressed in the program she realized that in spite of enjoying what she was studying, something deep inside was telling her that this was not for her.

“Yes, I loved what I was learning, but something was missing,” she said reflectively. “I did not see myself completely being a doctor.”

For this reason, she began the process of trying to figure out her answers based on her interests and passions in life. There is no doubt that all of us have been at the same point in our lives as Shanna. That crucial decision – which program to study – has the potential not only to bring accomplishments and professional success, but also to help us achieve that most crucial thing, happiness and wellbeing in our personal lives.

Shanna’s decision to making a switch from a Biological Science background to Public Relations was the result of research and the application of analytical and strategic thinking skills. As she was trying to figure out where to take her career and life, she noticed that automatically her grades were connected to a path to pursue a doctor’s career. Nevertheless, she was not interested in entering the medical field under this job position.

Therefore, she thought that the best thing she could do was stead study to become a physician assistant. The problem was that this profession, unfortunately, is not necessarily regulated in Canada just yet. This led her to consider having to travel to the U.S. to study, since in America, physician assistant is an established career track.

Although she did end up applying to this program, she still would have preferred to stay in Canada. It was therefore not entirely unwelcome when she failed to qualify. And when considering what to do next, the answer turned out to be right in front of her. While all of this was happening, you see, Shanna was working at a dermatology research center as a Recruitment Specialist.

“My job was finding patients that feet criteria to participate in clinical trials with skin diseases. I was responsible for listening with sponsors, speaking and enrolling patients. Generally, give information to patients,” Callaghan says. There was a lot of public relations, and I was the face of research when a patient or a doctor would come. I did a lot of the relations part.”

For Shanna, having worked for this research center not only broadened her mind and expanded her networking but also allowed her to be simultaneously in contact with the PR world and the medical field.

“I have people who I’ve worked with that has always told me that Public Relations would be something that I should do and the funny thing is that I did not do much research on it, I just followed my guts. I looked at different PR programs, and I applied to Seneca, and that is why I am here now.”

Different PR Programs to Study

When Shanna decided to begin her PR academic journey, she started to apply to different Colleges in Toronto. What ultimately convinced her to study at Seneca was the warm and respectful treatment that she received from the Seneca Faculty. Especially from Jeff Roach, coordinator of the Public Relations-Corporate Communications program.

“Jeff Roach was just a warm person, and he was interested and very encouraged, and with him, I felt that there could be a success; and that is the biggest thing that he made me comfortable,” Callaghan says. “He emailed me personally, and that was such a personal email that was a good one feeling as well.”

What has Shanna liked most about the PR Program of Seneca?

Through this academic PR journey, Shanna has discovered how multifaceted and versatile this Graduate Certificate course has been. Previously, her grades used to depend a great deal on exams, but in this program, Seneca grades her by collaborating in teams with professors, domestic and international students.

For her, the idea conveyed by Seneca’s professors of seeing them as a boss or as a colleague who behaves professionally within the classroom, has been the factor that Shanna has liked most about this program. “I just like that professionalism of the program.” She says.

Flexibility at work

Shanna would like to have flexibility in her work life and constant challenges to provide mental stimulation.

“I think that this job would do that, and although I’ve realized that I have different interests such as the medical field, architecture, non-profit, and fashion, my dream is to have the flexibility to experience as many of them as possible from the perspective of public relations.”

Shanna is happy because she knows that as soon as she finishes her degree, she will have academic credentials in both in Public Relations and Biological Science. Also, she will be able to apply her previous experience in both fields.

Sharing Classes with International Students

A key element that Shanna has found as a very enriching experience about this program is the opportunity it gives her to share her classes and exchange ideas and opinions with international students.  

“Honestly, it has been very beneficial to me working and collaborating on assignments or projects with international students. I find that my international fellows bring a lot of their experience to this program.”

The PR Program is for any Background

Coming from a Science background was one of the things that caused Shanna to be a little scared about this program. She thought that by not knowing anything about PR, she was not going to have much success. However, during her studies for the Public Relations -Corporate Communications Graduate Certificate, she noticed that the material could be adapted to any background while still being made to apply to the PR and Communications field.

“What this program showed me is that you can come from any background, and that brings an asset. If you come from another background, such as Science, or engineering background, you can bring to the field of public relations.” Callaghan says.

Science and PR together

© Shanna | Facebook

Now very near to concluding her postgraduate program in Public Relations in April, Shanna is more than excited to return to the work field, now with an academic credential that will back her up from Seneca College.

Currently, she is in her second and last semester of the PR program, and she is about to start her career with experience, knowledge, and skills that were learned, developed and deepened in this program.

“I feel that Science and PR have been an excellent mix for me, and also I would like to go into the science field because that is how my brain is wired because I feel that I’ve a lot of strengths in this field.”

Nowadays, Shanna looks at herself with more confidence and enthusiasm, walking with firm steps that will build her career and future. Currently, she is working on building her writing portfolio and resume to present them to potentials job interviews.

If you enjoyed this story. Visit The Real Threat to Canada’s Turtles or Afro-Caribbean Cultural Contributions and their Influence in Canada.

Wait for my next post… 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.