Young scholar uses challenges to fuel goals

Paul Mayne // Western News

First-year Medical Sciences student Katelyn Greer has been active in her community for some time. She sorted clothes at a second-hand store, organized food drives and helped build a playground in her community. Greer and her family also organize the annual Great Memories Golf Tournament, an event to support Alzheimer’s research in honour of her grandfather.

One day, Katelyn Greer may pioneer advances in the field of medicine she already knows too much about. Having suffered a trio of concussions, the most recent less than eight months ago, the first-year Medical Sciences student is more than familiar with the injury’s debilitating symptoms.

“I’ve never broken a bone, ended up in hospital, but then suddenly, I had three concussions in a row,” said Greer of her rugby and soccer experiences in high school. Doctors advised her to quit sports; she missed more than four months of school.

“I’ve never not played sports. It was it was killing me. It was torture,” said the North York resident. “I was sitting in bed, couldn’t really read anything, it was hard to be part of conversations. I was having a hard time dealing with it. It affected not only me, but my friends and family.”

Greer, who finished school after playing a lot of “catch up,” has been active in her community for some time. She sorted clothes at a second-hand store, organized food drives and helped build a playground in her community. Greer and her family also organize the annual Great Memories Golf Tournament, an event to support Alzheimer’s research in honour of her grandfather. To date, they have raised more than $200,000.

“I’m so proud of my family for creating an amazing tournament that has become such a hit,” Greer said. “By volunteering, I truly feel like I am bettering someone else’s life and, through that, I am finding real happiness and pride in my own. I enjoy doing it, the social interaction and I can walk away at the end of the day knowing I did something good.”

For her efforts, Greer earned a Foresters Scholarship through the Foresters Competitive Scholarship Program. Each year, the international financial services provider offers up to 250 scholarships (worth up to $8,000 each) for students to pursue postsecondary education in the United States and Canada.

With Alzheimer’s and concussion so prevalent in her life, it makes sense Greer wants to work her way toward medical school.

“I knew from about Grade 9 that I wanted to go into science, and I knew Western was one of the top schools for science,” she said. “It was between Western and Queen’s. I loved checking out Queen’s, but I always had a gut feeling about Western. I love the green space, the trees and even the sense of community I felt.”

Greer said it was difficult to catch her footing at first, but she has quickly grown to love her classes and professors. Symptom free for four months, she has returned to sports by joining the varsity curling team.

“It’s great to be back in sports. I love the team environment,” she said.

While specifics are still in the works, Greer knows where she wants to be after graduation.

“I want to work in a hospital, in medical research, as a lab tech or a specialized doctor,” she said. “It’s about customer service. People can make or break your day – putting a smile on one person’s face changes your whole day. I have a lot of family in and out of hospital. There were people there who changed their experience for them. I want to make sure I keep that in my job, so working in hospital will allow me to do just that.”