CBU Student Supports Research in Healthy Aging

In 2021, Carol Zeyona Thomas was living in India considering how she could further her education in the field of health care. She knew she wanted to study in Canada, but was also looking for the right opportunity to build on her previous education in the field of dentistry. Carol did her homework before making a decision, examining multiple universities and programs across the country. In the end, she was confident in her final decision to apply to Cape Breton University.

“After comparing various Health Care Management programs, CBU seemed like the best fit for me,” says Carol. “I know others who attended CBU and they confirmed that the small community and class sizes make for a great learning environment.”

Carol began a Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Healthcare Management at CBU in January 2022. After immersing herself in her studies and life in Cape Breton, she soon focused on a new challenge – finding employment. Carol quickly found a job as a hospital sitter at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, providing support and companionship to elderly patients. While she describes this as an incredibly rewarding job, Carol was eager to gain further career experience with a particular interest in research.

“While I was studying dentistry I conducted research on oral cancer,” Carol explains. “It was then that I discovered research can be so rewarding because it allows you to contribute to improving outcomes for public health.”

Carol continued her job as a hospital sitter as she pursued her degree and explored student research opportunities. She had no idea that her dedication to caring for the elderly would make her an ideal candidate to work on an emerging research focus at CBU.

“When I learned about the student job opportunity with CBU’s Centre of Excellence for Healthy Aging it seemed like it was meant to be,” says Carol. “I truly enjoy working with the elderly so it seemed like the perfect place for me to apply my research skills.”

Carol was successful in her application for the position of Student Research Assistant with CBU’s newest research centre. Under the direction of one of the world’s leading geriatric specialists, Dr. Kenneth Rockwood, the Centre of Excellence for Healthy Aging (CEHA) is conducting research focused on dementia prevention. Carol says she’s inspired to be involved in research that supports an aging population in Nova Scotia, while also participating in a national study.

“We’re working with other universities across Canada, so it’s great to be part of a large research project,” says Carol. “I’ve learned that Nova Scotia has one of the largest proportions of older adults in Canada, so we will be contributing research data that is valuable on a national level.”

The Centre is currently conducting clinical research with the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA). This project is designed to reduce risk factors for dementia by examining the impact of prevention. Part of Carol’s role will include supporting the seniors who are volunteering to take part in a year-long study. Participants between the ages of 60-85 will use an online program that offers interactive education and activities to empower older adults to improve their physical and mental health.

“As a student at CBU, I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be part of research that relates to my studies while also working on something that supports positive outcomes for older people in  Nova Scotia,” says Carol.

We are so proud of Carol’s commitment as a CBU student, research assistant and valued member of the community!