"Maintain your desire to learn," says Master of Science in health sciences grad Silvo Hernesniemi (MSc '22). Silvo graduates leaving behind a hearty contribution to the development of the future Centre of Excellence for Therapeutic Recreation here at the University of Lethbridge. Research methodologies and the exploration of knowledge fuelled the fire for Silvo at ULethbridge.

I encourage students to never just "cover material" in their courses, because this does not contribute to your success in the long-term.

Pursuing more is at the heart of Silvo's success, as receiving GA positions, scholarships and more all come from his desire for 'more'. Silvo reflects on his time at ULethbridge.

What was your research based on?

I conducted a Delphi study seeking an expert consensus to develop a well-defined vision for a Centre of Excellence for Therapeutic Recreation in continuing care settings. This study will contribute to the development of a future Centre of Excellence that will be housed at the University of Lethbridge.

What unique opportunities did you get by taking part in this research?

It was a privilege to learn from my supervisor, Dr. Sienna Caspar, a scholar who has contributed immensely to the field of therapeutic recreation and who also has over 20 years of clinical experience. The research participants included expert therapeutic recreation practitioners located in several different provinces across Canada. They formed a consensus for a Centre of Excellence that would help meet their needs and the needs of residents living in continuing care settings.

What are your biggest takeaways from being involved in this research?

It has been exciting to conduct research that will have a real-life impact and hopefully help to contribute to the growth of therapeutic recreation in Canada.

What is your most memorable ULethbridge experience?

My most memorable experience during my graduate studies was seeing my friends and family attend my virtual oral defence. Their kind words and support made my thesis defence so rewarding!

What is the most important lesson you learned during your time at ULethbridge?

It is almost impossible to know everything about conducting research, and that is okay. I learned that finding the research methods and topics that interest you the most will make learning much more enjoyable and also ignite a strong passion for your field of study.

Is there someone specific who had an important influence on your ULethbridge experience?

Dr. Sienna Caspar has been my mentor, professor, supervisor, "life coach", and listening ear. She is a truly remarkable and irreplaceable person! The University of Lethbridge is blessed to have her.

Did you receive scholarships and awards? If so, please tell us a bit about how they helped you throughout your studies.

I received the SGS Tuition Award and the MSc Admission Scholarship. I was also given a graduate student assistantship which allowed me to work as a teaching/research assistant. These all helped me to focus my attention on my full-time studies and to do my best without having to worry about the common financial burden of doing post-secondary studies.

What are your hopes and plans for the future?

I hope to work as a therapeutic recreation specialist in the field to gain professional work experience. Then, in the near future, I hope to pursue doctoral studies and one day become a scholar in the field of therapeutic recreation. This has been my dream for a long time.

What advice would you like to give those who are about to begin their journey at ULethbridge?

For those entering graduate studies, I encourage them to take time to read about research methodologies that interest them. I encourage upcoming students to never just "cover material" in their courses because this does not contribute to your success in the long term. Maintain your desire to learn.

Congratulations, Silvo!

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