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PhD Candidate Awarded Canadian Dissertation Scholarship

PhD Candidate Awarded Canadian Dissertation Scholarship
By Mike McNulty
July 17, 2013

Republished from the USC Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy website


Occupational science PhD candidate Michelle Elliot has been awarded a scholarship from Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to support her qualitative research. The SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship will support the final stages of Elliot’s PhD dissertation project entitled “Unpacking Experiences and Narratives of Students: Life Changing, Changing Life or Merely Taking a Trip.”

Elliot is exploring experiences which have the potential to be transformative by examining the roles of expectation, reflection, immersion and travel. Many institutions offer student service learning, study abroad, and international immersion programs, often advertised as offering ‘life changing’ experiences, and Elliot’s interest is in understanding the impact of such programs on students’ personal, professional, and occupational identities. To explore such experiences, Elliot traveled with a group of occupational students completing an intensive short-term immersion in a developing foreign country as part of their professional training program. Her observations made during the trip, as well as narrative-based interviews conducted with the students, will provide the data for her phenomenological and ethnographic analyses.

Created by an act of the Parliament of Canada in 1977, the SSHRC is Canada’s federal research funding agency promoting and supporting postsecondary research and training in the humanities and social sciences. Elliot, a Canadian citizen, is a fourth year occupational science PhD candidate at the USC Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. She completed her Master of Science degree in Occupational Therapy degree at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. She has worked as a clinical occupational therapist in various mental health settings, including a dedicated eating disorder treatment program in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.