Amie Smith and Haley Scheck

Grad student feature: Exploring public health and embracing culture

Introducing Haley Scheck and Amie Smith, two first-year Master of Public Health (MPH) students at the USask School of Public Health and recipients of the prestigious Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship (QES).

Haley, hailing from the small farming town of Cactus Lake, SK, and Amie, growing up in the scenic Rocky Mountains of Cranbrook, BC, both have a background in psychology.

As part of their MPH program, Haley and Amie have been granted an exciting opportunity to complete their summer practicum in Bridgetown, Barbados. With the support of Dr. Hassan Vatanparast, the Nutritional Epidemiology Lab, The University of the West Indies, The George Alleyne Chronic Disease Research Centre (GA-CDRC), and The Queen Elizabeth Scholar Program (QES), they are working towards strengthening the capacity to combat non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the Caribbean.

Amie and Haley during a hike around Bathsheba Beach, Barbados

During the week, Haley and Amie dedicate their time at the GA-CDRC, focusing on research projects aimed at addressing NCDs in the region. Amie is developing an implementation plan for a mobile phone survey to collect population health data on NCDs in Barbados, potentially scaling it up nationwide in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization. Meanwhile, Haley's project involves analyzing population health and vital status data to understand the impact of hypertension and diabetes on mortality in Barbadian adults. Their research will inform and evaluate NCD intervention strategies.

Outside of their work, Haley and Amie embrace the vibrant culture of Barbados. They have explored the island's rich history at the Barbados Museum and Historical Society, embarked on thrilling jungle hikes, and basked in the beauty of white sand beaches. Attending a local fish fry on the East Coast of the island was a highlight, where they enjoyed live music and entertainment. Their upcoming adventures include snorkeling by shipwrecks, exploring the enchanting Harrison Caves, and indulging in traditional Caribbean cuisine.

If you are a graduate student and interested in learning about the QES award opportunity for short-term research projects about non-communicable diseases in Barbados or Jamaica, please contact Dr. Hassan Vatanparast at