She may be about as far from the West Coast as one can get without hitting the Atlantic Ocean, but Jennifer Wong still considers Burnaby her home.
A former Cariboo Hill student, now a student at Saint Mary's Univeristy in Halfiax completing her masters of science in applied psychology, Wong was recently named this year's winner of a prestigious research award.
The Quest award, presented by the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation and Capital Health, is given once annually to the student researcher who demonstrates the greatest promise and potential for excellence in health research.
She's currently working on research to identify the stresses faced by caregivers in long-term care facilities in Nova Scotia.
"I was born in Hong Kong, but my parents immigrated to B.C. before I turned three," she told the NOW. "I consider Burnaby my hometown."
She attended Second Street elementary school and, after finishing high school at Cariboo, went on to do her undergraduate studies at UBC.
Her master's degree is focused on industrial/organizational psychology: looking at the psychology of employees in the workplace.
"Everyone goes to work. It is such a big part of our lives that little issues when encountered every day have consequences on the workers," she said. "I/O psychologists aim to make organizations a healthy place to work. A good workplace means happier employees and employers and more efficient organizations and societies."
Her work looking at care facilities in Nova Scotia is, she says, an opportunity to apply her studies to a real organization, and provide information back to the facilities.
"I hope to continue doing research in the future, not just for the sake of academia, but useful research that helps bring empirical enlightenment to real-life organizational issues."
She's not yet sure where her career path will take her, but says she's open to all the possibilities, from university to governmental or consulting. Though she says she loves the maritimes - "it's unique and unlike anything I experienced in the west" - but she's hoping to come back to B.C. someday.
"It is home, after all."
But that will have to wait: she recently learned she'd been accepted to continue her studies in the PhD program at Saint Mary's University. And she'll continue working with her supervisor, Dr. E. Kelloway.
"I am extremely privileged to be learning from him," she says.
As for the award itself, she says she's honoured and thrilled to have been chosen, considering how prestigious the award is and the caliber of research done by past winners.