PODS Spotlight: Aliya Allen-Valley

Hi everyone! I’m Aliya. I’m a recent graduate from McGill University (class of 2018!) with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Development Studies. Currently, I am a PODS Fellow. Since my second year of university, I have been passionate about health policy, and have been looking for ways to further entrench myself in the field. My aim is to work to increase access to care and remove barriers for marginalized communities, both in Canada and abroad.

While in university, I had a lot of opportunities to explore my interest in health care. I was able to intern at the Institute for Health and Social Policy; and, through engagements with other organizations, I was able to attend conferences and events that focused specifically on health care, and to speak out about important issues pertaining to health policy. But as I entered my fourth year and began to approach graduation, I was looking for ways that I could continue to conduct research in this field; and maybe even learn something new. That’s when I heard about the PODS program.

The PODS Program allows students and recent graduates at McGill to analyze a policy topic of their interest while teaching them how to conduct data analysis to explore policy and practice from a new perspective. While at first this seemed like a stretch for me (math has been something I have adamantly avoided since grade 9) – I knew it was something that could really help me explore my interests in health policy from a different angle; merging my background in qualitative analysis and research with something more quantitative, graphical, and numeric. And it did. Through the PODS program, I have gained a new outlook on research. I have learned how to analyze and explore trends using R (something I never thought I would do), and, through my internship placement at The McGill Observatory on Health and Social Services Reforms (MOHSSR), I have been able to put my newfound knowledge of R, and university-built knowledge of research, into practice. My internship placement has granted me the opportunity to explore Long Term Care policies and options in Canada by not only looking at and qualitatively analyzing existing and potential new policies; but by looking at the trends in data to analyze how and why policies need to be assessed to understand and explore where we’re headed. In the future, I hope to delve deeper into quantitative research; perhaps exploring machine learning and brushing up on regressions. This program has allowed me analyze trends in new ways, and is something that has really benefitted the way I think about and understand policy.

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