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Laurier Grads Soar: Dr. Megan Yaraskavitch
Laurier Grads Soar is a multi-part series that has returned for the 2017-18 year. The segment features former Wilfrid Laurier University athletes and student-leaders in the Athletics and Recreation Department, and the success they have enjoyed since leaving Laurier. Written by award-winning journalist David Grossman, different features will be released throughout the year that will emphasize the role Athletics and Recreation played in helping them achieve success.

The urge for knowledge has been relentless for Dr. Megan Yaraskavitch

Since grade school, Yaraskavitch has had an inexorable thirst to learn. 

Now, after a total of 28 years of classroom education, she’s doing more of the same – learning, studying and grasping more theoretical and practical understanding of part of the central nervous system that controls physical and mental actions.

If she gets her way, Yaraskavitch could become an expert in the composition of the human brain.

Yaraskavitch has packaged elementary and high school, with four years of under grad school and a Bachelor of Science degree at Wilfrid Laurier University. Add on several more years at the University of Calgary for her Masters, Med school and residency. Now, she's doing a second Masters - this time in Health Care and Patient Safety - at Queen's University in Kingston.  All this, while working as a neurologist.

Top academic grades, indeed, with a pile of university awards to go along with that, too.

Down the road, Yaraskavitch just might become one of the country’s top neurologists with a heavy emphasis on a leadership role in patient safety and health care quality.

“I am fascinated with the human brain and see myself as a physician focused on medical management, not as a surgeon,” said Yaraskavitch, who is married and has two children. “I’m very interested in what causes dementia, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and even headaches.”

Yaraskavitch is the first to admit her choice of studies and career didn’t fall in place until she made a trip, with her mother, to Laurier. There had been visits to other Ontario schools, some closer to her Durham Region home, but one stood out.

“When we went to Laurier, I liked the feeling, the academic programs and the importance of sport really stood out,” she said. “I wanted to stay close to home, but once I was at Laurier, it was very clear that this was where I wanted to go.”

While Yarakavitch said she had an attraction to medicine, she was clear that it had nothing to do with her mother being a nurse. Thoughts of a future working in orthotics lasted a bit, but it wasn’t until medical school that the fascination with neurology took over.

Hard to believe, but Yaraskavitch did find time for things other than academic studies. Early days of figure skating didn’t work out. Neither did ringette, but girl’s hockey was promising until she injured her back playing with the Whitby Wolves club team. It was during rehabilitation that she watched and then got interested in lacrosse.

“At Laurier, I needed something other than school work, so I tried out for the lacrosse team,” said Yaraskavitch. “I wasn’t the top scorer, but things worked out quite well.”

Yaraskavitch won the 2003 Laurier team Rookie of the Year award and, later that year, was on the podium for her first of three consecutive Ontario University Athletics lacrosse team championships. A year later, in 2004, she was the winner of both the OUA’s Most Sportsmanlike Player and Academic Achievement Award. In 2005, she topped it off as the recipient of the prestigious Luke Fusco Academic Athletic and Achievement award scoring a grade point average of 11.9.

Looking ahead, Yaraskevitch was quite adamant about being focused on honesty and integrity.

“As a physician, I want to sit down with patients, and their families, discuss their diagnosis and be part of their journey – it’s a personal connection,” she said. “I relate well to people and want to make sure they know they’re not objects and deserve the best care and attention.

“When I was at Laurier, it was there that I really learned about discipline and it’s the same discipline, and strategies, that are required in the practices to do my work.”

-END-

  David Grossman is a veteran award-winning Journalist and Broadcaster with some of Canada’s major media, including the Toronto Star and SPORTSNET 590 THE FAN, and a Public Relations professional for 40+ years in Canadian sports and Government relations. 

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