Veeresh Pavate completed an undergraduate degree in Computer Science and Business Administration in 2005. After some time spent on the job market teaching at the Cégep level and working in industry, Veeresh returned to Bishop’s to complete the course-based Master’s of Education (M. Ed.) in Leadership, Societies and Language, with the hopes of combining his two areas of expertise, teaching and learning technology. Veeresh completed his M.Ed. in 2018, in spite of the considerable challenges posed by a health condition he has had since birth: he suffers from Thalassemia, a genetic condition that leads to a dangerously low production of hemoglobin in the blood, and that obliges him to travel out every three to four weeks to the McGill University Health Centre where he receives blood transfusions.
Over the course of his graduate studies at Bishop’s, Veeresh came to be inspired by the research and leadership of Dr. Christopher Stonebanks, Professor in the School of Education, who opened his student’s eyes to action research, that is, research undertaken with a view to solve a specific problem, typically in collaboration with the individuals or stakeholders directly affected by this problem. Upon noticing his student’s enthusiasm and curiosity, Dr. Stonebanks suggested the possibility of moving on to doctoral studies. An idea that Veeresh Pavate considered, with some reservations. Would this be possible given his health condition? Would a Ph.D. focused on learning technologies provide him with the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution? His professor sensed his hesitation, and took the time to meet with him to exchange honestly and earnestly. “He kept asking me: what would make you happy? Would you feel fulfilled doing that?” Veeresh explains. “This led me to think: what I really want is to have a positive impact on those who, like me, suffer from Thalassemia. I want to show them that they can go as far as they want, that they can be themselves without hiding. In many countries, this condition is something of a taboo. Here in Canada, too few people understand this condition, its impacts and the needs of those who suffer from it.”
This was how Veeresh found his calling in Health Education. Dr. Richard Hovey, a specialist of patient centered care and communication in healthcare working in the Faculty of Dentistry at McGill University, agreed to supervise Veeresh’s doctoral studies, which will consist of a phenomenological study of the challenges of living with Thalassemia.
Going from Computer Science to Education, and completing one’s studies in a Faculty of Dentistry is an unlikely trajectory, but is one that was facilitated by the liberal arts education he gained at Bishop’s University. “I came to have a very multidisciplinary profile thanks to my experience at Bishop’s, and I think that as a result I can bring an interesting dimension to this type of research. But most importantly, this is a trajectory that will allow me to contribute meaningfully to society, and, importantly, to be myself.”