Alumni Profile: Abby Sirisegaram-Cole

Thanks to the generosity of Michener’s donors, Abby Sirisegaram-Cole is back on her feet. A 2011 graduate from the Radiation Therapy program, Abby returned to Michener in November to be Master of Ceremonies at the 2014 Student Awards Ceremony. She credits Michener’s student awards for getting her to where she is today.

Abby’s journey started on a cold Tuesday morning in March 2011 when she was still a Michener student. Walking to her clinical placement at The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre, Abby slipped on a patch of ice, snapping her ankle in two. She needed immediate surgery and couldn’t walk for three months.

Only six weeks away from completing her placement, Abby was devastated.

“I couldn’t work as a radiation therapist, because you have to be your feet,” she says.

Although she was able to complete her clinical placement while using a wheelchair, Abby’s rehab process was slow: three months using a wheelchair; finding a new home without stairs; finding accessible transportation and overcoming recovery complications that included an infection and four additional surgeries.

Abby Sirisegaram-Cole
Abby Sirisegaram-Cole at the 2014 Student Awards Ceremony

Two months after her fall, Abby passed the CAMRT (Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists) certification exam and in June 2011, she spoke as Valedictorian at Michener’s convocation. That November, she accepted four scholarships at the Student Awards Ceremony.

Abby credits the scholarships for allowing her to stay in Ottawa during her recovery and take on a research job with her clinical research advisor at The Ottawa Hospital.

“It was a tumultuous time so receiving the scholarships really gave me that little bit of a boost,” she says.

“It impacted me professionally and now has enabled me to have an amazing job that’s put me in a position where I can now give back. As a student, it made a world of difference. I was so appreciative.”

During her recovery, Abby worked with The Ottawa Hospital as a research radiation therapist. She presented research and attended an international conference in the field of radiation sciences, all while undergoing rehabilitation and working almost entirely from wheelchairs, crutches and canes.

“The money from the donor scholarships really helped support my transition from being a student to working in research, as well as find decent living,” she recalls.

“It eased a lot of heartache and stress.”

Today, Abby is a full-time radiation therapist at the Simcoe Muskoka Regional Cancer Program at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre in Barrie.

Every year Michener’s student awards help support the journey of a new cohort of students. The annual Student Awards Ceremony brings together the Michener community to honour scholarship and bursary award recipients and the donors who help contribute to academic success at Michener.