Anamika Mishra, Level III Arts & Science and Biochemistry, interviews and reports | Julia Hanes
When meeting up for an interview, I had no trouble
recognizing Ms. Julia Hanes when I first saw her. While her
robotic legs buzzing busily as she walked by, she looked
at ease, tossing her hair back laughing with a friend. After
being able-bodied for 17 years, Julia experienced a stroke
which left her paralyzed on the left side of her body.
Previously an avid athlete, the stroke had initially left her
unable to complete the simplest of tasks. Nonetheless, she
had overcome her condition and thrived in her educational
career over her time here at McMaster. She currently is a
teaching assistant for Cell and Molecular biology, works for
CanChild, is a Community Advisor at McMaster and has
an avid interest in advocacy for people with a disability.
Although her disability may be apparent at first glance, her
remarkable abilities are all one sees upon speaking with her.
Entering her fourth year of Health Sciences with a BHSc,
Honours Biomedical Specialization, Julia had an early
interest in chemistry. However, taking a third year project
course with Dr. Karen Mossman sparked her interest
in biochemistry. She described staying up late to read
biochemistry papers for the sheer joy of understanding
them. Biochemistry better combined chemistry with health
sciences than chemical biology, she found.
Julia described various past, current and future research
ventures eagerly, exhibiting a drive seen in seasoned
researchers rather than undergraduates. She will be
starting her thesis on spinal muscular atrophy with
Dr. Vladimir Ljubicic from Kinesiology in the fall. She
describes her thesis topic as “a very nice molecular model
of disease.” Her current work with CanChild focuses on
the mental health implications of having cerebral palsy.
Discussing these projects, she effortlessly flitted back and
forth in conversation from the microscopic molecular
mechanism of diseases to the macroscopic human and
social impacts the diseases have. “When people are
passionate about what they do, it’s so obvious and it
comes across immediately in their work” stated Julia.
I smiled because sitting before me with a clear-faced,
bright-eyed smile, Julia exhibited precisely the kind of
authentic zeal for her work that she described.
Going forward, Julia can see herself working as
a physician, motivated by the satisfaction of serving
people. Nevertheless, she maintains that research
would be indispensable to her. Asked to give any
advice to incoming students, she said they should get
involved within the Hamilton community outside of
west Hamilton. She described the interactions between
her sledge hockey team in Hamilton and herself, and
the perspective that came with talking to people with
different goals and challenges. She affectionately talked
about the love and support her brother provides to her,
as well as the valuable mentoring her past professors
have given her. In terms of finding a work-life balance,
she believes that if you find something that you genuinely
enjoy doing, the work-life balance falls into place.
Anamika Mishra (left) with Julia Hanes
stimulating, dealing with new problems everyday while working in a communicative and integrated environment.
Undoubtedly, the future is bright for Maddy as she nears the end of her undergraduate career. Time will tell what the
exciting field of biochemistry has to offer, and what contributions she will make. To the students considering entering
an education or career in the Biochemistry field, advice from this exceptionally successful student would be to use first
year as a guide to choose a second year specialization that’s tailored to your passions and interests. She urges incoming
students to use the general first year courses to determine what does and does not appeal to you. See beyond the
mainstream career paths of medicine and remain open minded and willing to explore a variety of options, she adds
and to always be willing to broaden your horizons to new opportunities that the biochemistry industry has to offer.
Continued from previous page