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Making InvisAbilities Visible, with President Ahalya Mehta

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Toronto chapter.

Name: Ahalya Mehta

Program: Pharmacy

Year: Third

Ahalya is the President of InvisAbilities, a relatively new club at U of T that aims to support young adults living with hidden, chronic illnesses (such as lupus, arthritis, diabetes, depression, etc.). 

Why did you first get involved with InvisAbilities? 

Growing up, there were a few of my friends who were diagnosed with “hidden” illnesses, and I was appalled by the amount of judgment they had to deal with on a regular basis. There were times when my Type 1 diabetic friend would stop going out to public places with our friends because she was scared of having a hypoglycemic episode and causing “unnecessary” disruptions. I had another friend who frequently suffered from severe migraines since childhood, and would often be absent from school. Our peers, and the teacher, had the view that she was “lazy” and “unmotivated.” 

There’s a prevailing view in society that young people should be “healthy,” and if you aren’t, it’s your fault and you must’ve done something wrong. There are also misconceptions that illness is easily identifiable just by looking at a person. So if you don’t look “sick,” you must be exaggerating your symptoms or making them up. This is a very important issue that isn’t getting the attention it deserves, so when I discovered InvisAbilities, I knew I had to get involved in some way.

What is your favourite part about being President of the group?

I love working with the unique members within the group. Each and every one of our members is so passionate and dedicated to the cause, and their diverse backgrounds allows them to offer new insights and ideas into various aspects of the club. I also love being able to collaborate with other clubs within U of T. 

What do you hope to achieve with the club this year?

The initiative I’m most excited about is the Buddy Program. In this program, we pair up students who suffer from similar InvisAbilities in an effort to create a peer-to-peer support network. People with InvisAbilities tend to feel alienated and alone, so we feel that providing this social support can foster empowerment and acceptance.

How are you finding the Pharmacy program at U of T?

As with any other professional program, pharmacy school can be tough at times, but I find solace in the fact that when I graduate, I will be involved in a career that I love. Pharmacists are often cited as the most trusted healthcare professionals. We have a unique role because we are so accessible! And with the expanding scope of practice, pharmacists are able to take on more clinical roles, like administering vaccinations and prescribing therapy for smoking cessation.  I enjoy seeing the impact that pharmacists can have on the quality of care that patients receive, and I can’t wait to graduate and join the field!

Lauren Pare is a fourth-year English specialist at the University of Toronto. When she is not reading Shakespeare or modern poetry for school, she enjoys writing, painting, yoga, and green tea.
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Lisa Chen

U Toronto

Lisa Chen is currently a second year student majoring in the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (it's a thing - I swear!) with a minor in English and a joint minor with Singapore National University in Asian Culture and Literature. When she is not editing articles for HerCampus and marveling at the amazing content her writers produce, Lisa is an executive on the Arts and Science Student's Union (ASSU) where she represents and advocates for the interests of over 24,000 students enrolled in the Faculty of Arts and Science. Lisa hopes to study law after graduation, preferably somewhere warm like California because Canadian winters are ridiculous and she loves high-waisted shorts. If you see her around campus, don't be afraid to come say hi! Especially if you love Adventure Time and Harry Potter as much as she does.