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Daniel Murcia Monroy, Master of Public Health, Class of 2017

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When most university students were looking forward to finishing their exams in April and relaxing during the summer break, Daniel Murcia Monroy was preparing to give the gift of life as a live organ donor. His mom would be the recipient.  

It was an easy decision for Murcia Monroy, now a student in the Master of Public Health (MPH) Program. His mother was in need, and he could help. Recalling his childhood, he wanted to be sure his younger brother would benefit from the same love and guidance from their mother that he had been fortunate enough to experience.

“The main reason I decided to be a donor was so that my little brother, who was 10 years old at the time, could grow up with a healthy mother. My mother has helped me to become the person I am today and I wanted that for him,” said Murcia Monroy.

While the experience of being a live organ donor is one that is unforgettable, Murcia Monroy didn’t expect it to be life-changing.

“My surgeon told me that the procedure would be ‘life changing’—and at the time I didn’t understand what he meant. But now, I realize the experience made me think differently and have new goals and intentions.”

The desire to help others is a now a life-guiding principle for Murcia Monroy, and something he tries to foster in his everyday life.

“I want to dedicate my life to creating change,” Murcia Monroy said. “I recognize that making global change is difficult, but if I can change the lives of specific people, then that is my goal,” he added.

This past year, Murcia Monroy has been heavily involved with charitable, student-led initiatives within the MPH program such as helping to organize a class-wide Thanksgiving Food Drive, assisting with blood donation clinics and fundraising for the Scotiabank StairClimb.

“Everything that I have done has always been collaborative. I don’t think that you can ever do something completely on your own,” he said humbly.

Notably, Murcia Monroy has dedicated a significant amount of time to Camp fYrefly, Canada’s only national leadership retreat for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-identified, two-spirited, intersexed, queer, questioning and allied youth. His goal is to fundraise for the camp and find new ways of securing donations.

So far, Murcia Monroy and his team have raised hundreds of dollars through ticket sales to various events and gained the support of local organizations to further their fundraising goal.

While his volunteer efforts continue Murcia Monroy is looking forward to the upcoming 12-week practicum component of the MPH program. He will be turning theory into practice and working with people who inject drugs and those living with HIV at the Middlesex London Health Unit.

“I never thought I could find a practicum placement that would combine all of my interests,” he said. “Being a local from London, I find it really rewarding to have an impact on my home community, but I also enjoy analyzing the social aspects involved with HIV and intravenous drug users that seem to be forgotten. This opportunity with the Middlesex London Health Unit brings everything that I am passionate about together.”

Taking all of his experiences into account, Murcia Monroy says after graduation he would like to work in a front-line position assisting others.

“I would like to be a front-line worker where I can have the opportunity to teach and learn from others—because we can never know enough. Filling a role that gives me the opportunity to be engaged and help people is where I would be the happiest," he said.

For Murcia Monroy, it’s just another opportunity to make change and a difference in people’s lives.

Offering advice for prospective MPH students, Murcia Monroy encourages them to evaluate their intentions and understand why they want to work in public health.

“You have to be very honest with yourself and your intentions. In the MPH program you will be challenged and you have to be ready to step back from the views you may already hold to see the world from a different point of view. As a student, you really are required to look at issues from a 360-degree perspective. Overall, this program has been a great, life-changing experience for me,” he said.