The latest from the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training

Where Are They Now? Students from Summers Past: Madeleine Gorman-Asal

Author: NB-IRDT Staff

Posted on Jul 13, 2022

Category: Student Spotlights , Training , Pathways to Professions

When NB-IRDT launched its Pathways to Professions (P2P) experiential learning program back in 2020, Madeleine Gorman-Asal was one of six undergraduates to join us for a summer of research and training. At the time, she was working towards a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics/Statistics and Biology, with plans to graduate in 2021. Now, two years later, we follow up with her to find out what she’s been up to lately and where she plans to go next.

Madeleine Gorman-Asal – From P2P to a Master’s in Public Health

Meet Madeleine. Formerly a Data Analyst for the PopNB team, she spent her summer back in 2020 looking into trends in post-secondary enrolments and international migration as potential solutions to help address New Brunswick’s low population growth rates.

I knew I wanted to get some research experience, and P2P seemed like a good introduction to that, especially since it didn’t require me to have a specific degree. I didn’t know what I wanted my next step to be, and I thought that maybe a research program could help me figure out if I wanted to do a Master’s. 

P2P actually ended up being different than I expected. I thought I’d come out and be able to check off “research experience” from my list. But there was a lot more training than I anticipated, and I gained soft skills and learned how to be a good employee – like how to come to meetings prepared and how to go beyond just crunching numbers to seeing a project through from start to finish. I gained a lot of employability by the end.

After P2P, Madeleine stayed with NB-IRDT as a part-time Research Assistant, eventually taking on a full-time role on our population health research team following her graduation. Now, she is pursuing a Master’s in Public Health at McGill University in Montreal.

I actually don’t think I’d be pursuing a Master’s in Public Health if it wasn’t for my time at P2P and working on NB-IRDT’s health projects. I didn’t really know this type of data-focused research was out there, and I didn’t know what I could do with my degree – with a mix of biology of math. It seemed like a weird combo to a lot of people!

My time at P2P showed me exactly how applicable my fields are. Seeing health-focused research at IRDT showed me that research can be more than cell biology research, for example, where you’re doing experiments in a lab – there’s a sociology aspect to it, too, that I became interested in.

The research component of P2P wasn’t the only part that prompted Madeleine to pursue a career in public health, though.

I’d say the Career Connect series was the most helpful part of the program in terms of my education and career journey. Meeting different people and hearing about their journeys to where they are now – even if there wasn’t a specific example from someone working a job I wanted to do – it showed me just how many types of opportunities there are that I didn’t know existed.

These talks helped me see that I would be fine – these people figured it out. They have undergrads similar to mine, and look how they took themselves in different directions. Meeting them was both calming and super interesting.

One of the goals of P2P is to help connect students with opportunities in New Brunswick, and we were so glad to hear how participating in the program affected Madeleine’s relationship with her home province.

This might sound corny, but it was inspiring to see that so many people care about New Brunswick and are doing research to try to make it better. I feel like that was my biggest takeaway from the program. I found I was motivated seeing so many people trying to make this a better place, and it made me feel more attached to the province too. People always say to me, “You’re obviously going to leave, right?” And yes, I am leaving, but only for school because my program isn’t offered in New Brunswick. I’m not at all opposed to coming back!

After all she’s experienced and learned since joining P2P, here is Madeleine’s advice:

Follow a path you’re excited about and make sure you care about what you’re doing, because ultimately that makes the end product better but also makes the process more enjoyable for you. I got lucky because I found the projects I was assigned to very exciting, and I was passionate about them. So, my advice would be to show enthusiasm – if you love what you’re doing, everything you work on will turn out so much better in the end.

Want to stay in touch? You can connect with Madeleine on LinkedIn.

We’ll be following up with other students in the near future, so make sure you subscribe to our newsletter so you don’t miss out!



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