Walaa Nasry is a 4th-year Ph.D. student at the Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC), Department of Pathology and Microbiology. Unlike many other graduate students, Nasry is 42 years old, and she has two daughters who are also students at UPEI.
Nasry immigrated to PEI in 2011 from Cairo, Egypt as a single mom with her mother and two young daughters.
In Egypt, she was a pediatrician for 10 years and worked in two private hospitals and owned her own clinic.
When she decided to make the move to PEI it was because the province was looking to hire physicians, and they accepted her application.
When she came to PEI, the province told her she could not work as a physician unless she gained medical experience in Canada, but she could not gain medical experience without a medical license. But she also could not gain a medical license without medical experience.
“I loved working as a physician, and in Egypt, you don’t study to be one kind of doctor, I was a pediatrician, but in my clinic and one of the two hospitals I worked at, I conducted a lot of surgeries and examined a lot of people who were not children,” Nasry told The Cadre.
“In Egypt, you’re taught everything, there’s no focus on just one specialty.”
It was clear that Nasry could not work as a physician in PEI.
In 2013, Nasry’s mother passed away, and she was left to fend for herself and two daughters completely alone.
Nasry did not give up, and in 2014 she became a Master’s student at the AVC, department of Pathology and Microbiology.
It was a great opportunity for Nasry as her children were in elementary school during that time. She could be at the AVC while her kids were at school, and by the time she would get home, her kids would be getting out of school.
Nasry graduated with her Master’s and began her Ph.D. in 2017.
Nasry’s research is about investigating oral cancer in cats and humans.
Walaa Nasry and her research (Courtesy of: AVC Pathology & Microbiology Newsletter)
Currently, her oldest daughter is a second-year student, while her youngest is a first-year student.
“It’s weird that my kids and I are all students in the same university, but it’s also kind of fun,” she said.
“Before the pandemic when my oldest was in first year, we ate lunch together and hung out when we both had free time between courses.”
Due to the pandemic, Nasry’s graduation was delayed, but she is set to graduate soon.
Nasry is excited to complete her Ph.D. as she is hopeful she’ll be able to work in a research-based position as she has gained a lot of experience from her Master’s and Ph.D. degrees.
“I’m just really happy to be almost done of my degree, so I can finally get a good job and provide a better life for myself and my kids.”