Emily Giroux – 2019 Student Reseacher of the Year Master's Level

I've always been very caring and I've always really wanted to help people. One day one of my friends asked me to help volunteer at the adaptive gym that she worked at and I said "Yeah sure, why not? When I got there I didn't realize how much I was going to enjoy it and I immediately fell in love with working with the spinal cord injury community. People living with spinal cord injuries used to only live about twelve to eighteen months after their injury, however as time's gone on their life expectancy has been reaching close to that of anyone in the general population. So my research was really important to develop something that would help people with spinal cord injuries. I interviewed twenty-two individuals who had been aging with a long-term spinal cord injury and to understand what would help them or stop them from fully participating in society as they get older. One of the things that really kept me going was the fact that I knew my research was going to make a difference in people's lives. There was one individual I spoke to and this person told me that just to be able to share their experiences meant so much to them that it gave them a new sense of purpose in their lives. We were both in tears on the phone and it's moments like that that really make me realize how much I love what I do.

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