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Alum’s research helps her community reach academic potential

Hossai Furmli standing next to her research poster at an Action Global Health Network Conference (Photo courtesy of Hossai Furmli)

Medical student and alum, Hossai Furmli (BSc., 2014) wants to help Afghani youth in Toronto, and her research provides important clues to how they can improve their education and their futures.

Furmli, now a third-year medical student at the University of Ottawa, conducted a qualitative research study in summer 2014. After discovering the lack of research done for her community and reflecting on her personal experiences growing up, Furmli took it upon herself to apply for a research grant at U of T Scarborough in her final undergraduate year.

“I have always been very blessed to have…networks of…people who have always been supportive of me. And whenever I would be able to excel, I would never see other Afghans there with me, which would make me quite sad because… members of my own community weren’t doing as well as I hoped they were doing,” says Furmli.

“When I was starting my project, the data from TDSB had shown that the Afghani population…had the lowest literacy rates among most minority groups in Toronto. It was a concern and I hoped to find out what was going on so that we could start targeting some interventions towards these populations,” she adds.

For her research project, Furmli looked at the educational outcomes and causes of Afghani youth. She interviewed and collected data from several young Afghans aged 18 and over, and determined the reasons why many members of her community fell behind their academic studies.

“In our community, it’s not that we don’t have aspirations; it’s that we don’t have a realistic way or goals of achieving them,” says Furmli.

Although Furmli finished most of her research in 2014, she presented her study at the University of Ottawa at an Action Global Health Network Conference late last year. She showcased her work through a poster and tied her study with the conference by relating education to health.

She hopes to publish her work and distribute the data she collected to local organizations, who could then use that information towards helping Afghani youth in Toronto achieve their academic goals.

© University of Toronto Scarborough