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Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship recipient: Christian Hui

Christian Hui, Policy Studies PhD and 2020 CIHR Vanier CGS recipient

Building upon his Master of Social Work, Christian Hui’s Policy Studies PhD research aims to co-develop health policies and co-create a sustainable Positive Health Equity Action Plan by meaningfully engaging people living with HIV and members from key population groups, along with representatives from AIDS service organizations, academics and policy influencers. 

“I am elated that Vanier Canada is recognizing Christian’s research excellence through this distinguished scholarship, which underscores his potential as one of our future leaders in the field of health equity. I commend Christian on his deserved honour,” said Dr. Steven N. Liss, vice-president, research and innovation at Ryerson.

A longtime AIDS activist, Hui is a co-founder of Ontario Positive Asians (OPA+) and the Canadian Positive People Network (CPPN), a steering member of the global Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U) campaign, and a national ambassador for the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR).

What inspires your research?

As a person living with HIV, an AIDS activist and a trained critical, anti-oppressive social worker from Ryerson’s Social Work program, my research is informed by my decade-long professional experience in the HIV and harm-reduction sectors where I have witnessed marginalized communities left behind from the response. The motivation for me to pursue research at the doctoral level is to advance health equity for diverse communities living with HIV by meaningfully engaging primary stakeholders through the creation of people-centered knowledge and policies.

What does it mean to be named a Vanier Scholar? How will this affect your research?

Since the selection criteria for the Vanier Scholarship include assessing applicants in the areas of academic excellence, research potential and leadership, I am motivated to carry through those qualities in my doctoral studies and research. My doctoral research will be grounded in scholarly literature and the lived experiences of people living with HIV, possess an activist orientation and fill an existing knowledge gap. Given my background in community-based research, a key component of my research will be engaging with the people living with HIV in the co-creation of knowledge and policy recommendations and the dissemination of  the study results to affected communities.

What advice do you have for Vanier Scholarship applicants?

Find out when the internal institution deadline is, as different institutions may have different timelines and processes to determine whom they would like to nominate. Prepare your application early as you are required to provide a personal leadership statement, a well-written research proposal, and a list of research contributions made. Reach out to your academic and leadership referees and provide them with a copy of your application materials if possible. I found it helpful to request trusted individuals to review my research proposal and the various application components as the process can help strengthen the application.

How is your Ryerson graduate education preparing you to be career-ready?

My Master of Social Work (’17) helped prepare me to become an anti-oppressive social work practitioner and a critical, qualitative social-science researcher. As I begin my journey as a Policy Studies doctoral student, I am excited to further my knowledge base in policy theories and approaches and gain a firm grounding in mixed-methods social policy research. I also look forward to learning from faculty members of diverse disciplines, and to further knowledge production and social change with my fellow cohort of doctoral students.

What advice do you have for graduate students in general?

Prepare your scholarship applications early as the deadlines for major awards tend to come prior to the university application deadlines. Be passionate about your field of study and research topic, and be prepared to study intensively. Strive to maintain a school-life balance and create a support network. 

You have been accepted into a graduate program because of your academic and personal strengths and research potential. Unleash your own positive power and develop a research question that can benefit the community and our world.

Christian Hui
Policy Studies PhD and 2020 CIHR Vanier CGS recipient