Health, People, Research, Student Profile
Sarah Craven is learning valuable research and career skills
April 3, 2023
Stober Foundation Undergraduate Research Fellowship recipient
Health and Social Development
Health and Exercise Sciences
Okanagan (Kelowna, BC)
"UBCO is a supportive environment that wants to see you succeed and thrive; I don’t feel like I’m just another undergrad student here, but rather, a valued member of the campus community."
Describe your research. What inspired you on this path?
I chose to study human kinetics because I’m interested in understanding how diet and exercise can help reduce an individuals’ risk for developing chronic diseases. I’m currently completing my undergraduate honours thesis with UBCO’s Diabetes Prevention Research Group under the supervision of Dr. Mary Jung.
The prevalence of chronic diseases is increasing across Canada. Although chronic disease prevention programs are designed to help improve health outcomes through adoption and adherence to good diet and exercise behaviours, these programs rarely reach equity-deserving groups who are most at risk for developing chronic diseases.
My study is critical for improving demographic data collection practices in community-based prevention programs, so that we may better understand the populations being served and identify inequities in program delivery. With improved demographic data, programs can develop better solutions for increasing the equity of care.
What do you think makes UBCO unique?
UBCO is an amazing place to learn and study. My favourite part about being here is the close-knit community. I love being able to walk across campus and wave to classmates or have my professors ask me how I’m doing when passing by. UBCO is a supportive environment that wants to see you succeed and thrive; I don’t feel like I’m just another undergrad student here, but rather, a valued member of the campus community.
What are some challenges you’ve faced so far in your academic career?
A big challenge I face regularly is balancing academics and my personal life. I’ve dealt with burnout in the past, so I know the consequences of not listening to your body. It takes trial and error to find the strategy that works best for you. I’m better at finding this balance now than I was in my first year, but it’s still difficult at times. I think a big thing I’ve learned is that by taking the time to rest when you need it, you’re helping yourself in the future.
“I hope to one day mentor undergraduate researchers and help them learn just how rewarding research can be—something my mentor has done for me.”
What does it mean to you to be a Stober Foundation Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) recipient?
Being a SURF recipient is an incredible opportunity; I had the wonderful experience of working in the Diabetes Prevention Research Group, a laboratory focused on community-based health programs and improving equity in access to Type 2 diabetes prevention care. I gained valuable research skills and learned about collaboration, communication, problem solving, time management and mentorship—skills that will serve me in any future career.
Do you have a mentor? If so, how have they influenced you?
I’m very lucky to have a mentor who has helped guide me through the last two years of my degree. Having a mentor with similar experiences is great when you need someone to talk to about the challenges and struggles you’re facing. Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed, I speak with my mentor, and they offer me new perspectives and clarity. I hope to one day mentor undergraduate researchers and help them learn just how rewarding research can be—something my mentor has done for me.
What’s the best advice you have for new undergraduate students?
Get involved in a wide variety of activities and projects! Get involved in things on campus, off campus, within your faculty or in a different faculty! By getting involved in a variety of projects, you learn new skills and meet new people. Being involved on campus also makes your university experience more than just academics; it’s about being a part of a community.
What do you hope to do after finishing your undergrad?
I want to continue to do research and stay with UBCO for my Master of Science. My passion for research is driven by my passion to help others live long, healthy lives. I want to do work that makes a difference to others, and I see the importance my research has in doing that. My long-term career goal is to keep focused on improving health promotion and preventative care.