Outdoor photo of woman smiling into the camera.

“I want to be one of the changemakers.”: Jazzmeyn Barnett

November 6, 2023


Community Voices

“I want to be one of the changemakers.”

Jazzmeyn Barnett’s inspiration to connect with others at UTM and beyond motivates her forward in her explorative career in health studies.

Jazzmeyn Barnett is focused on ways to combine two of her deeply rooted interests that persisted throughout high school and into her current UTM studies: science and health.

Now entering her third year of an undergraduate program in UTM’s Department of Biology, Barnett says that her passion for science has endured throughout her life, and she has constantly found ways to explore it via various sources.

“When I was young, my mom and I were always watching documentaries, like Animal Planet,” says Barnett, who also recounts that her time competing as a professional gymnast in her youth further sparked her interest in kinesiology.

“You become familiar with the different muscles in the body, the different systems, because [that knowledge] helps you get better at the sport.”

Motivated by this same approach in her studies – that extra information improves your performance – Barnett has enriched her UTM undergraduate experience by building connections outside the classroom and by exploring many diverse extracurriculars through student societies and clubs.

Having initially served as the Events Coordinator of the Black Student Association, and now leading the organization as co-President, Barnett is intent on introducing exciting events that will speak to UTM’s diverse community.

She is additionally putting her vision into action by identifying a gap and a further need for connection. “After speaking with my friends, I know that our hair, and how we do our hair, has a huge impact on our mental health,” says Barnett. “I want to create a safe space for people, who don’t know much about hair, to come together and be comfortable in discussing this issue.”

Barnett is also the Outreach Director at Creatives For Change (C4C), a UTM club that promotes art and creativity. In this role, she has enjoyed broadening the scope of her thinking, branching out from the more structured discipline of biology and health sciences, and indulging in creative outlets.

Barnett explained the many ways Creatives For Change has allowed her to exercise different ways of thinking that have ultimately improved her mindset and approach to the more structured discipline of biology and health sciences.

Barnett augments her campus-community involvement and interest in health by joining ECSpeRT, a team of student volunteers dedicated to delivering first aid to staff and students at UTM. Though stressful at times, Barnett explains that her experience in ECSpeRT has bolstered her interest in a career in healthcare.

“Being able to see the visible relief on someone’s face, because they know you are there to help them, has been really important to me.”

ESCpeRT has also improved her confidence being in a professional healthcare environment and in her ability to respond to crises. Barnett strongly encourages students interested in the medical field to pursue similar experiences and develop key practical skills.

Currently, Barnett supports the Loren Martin Pain Lab as a Research Assistant. She is hoping to continue working at the lab as a master’s student conducting research on pain and how it may “modify the neural circuits and transmitter/peptide systems related to sensory, emotional, social and cognitive information.” In addition to this work, Barnett is also deeply interested in the fields of climate change, Black and Indigenous communities in Canada, and the intersection of these topics within healthcare and medicine. Beyond research, Barnett wishes to attend medical school in the future to continue pursuing her health-related interests.

Though this is already an ambitious plan, Barnett is not done; like her inspiration to connect with others at UTM, Barnett is keen on finding her community in her professional field.

In reflecting on the status of representation in medicine, Barnett noted that “… it’s really discouraging to be in these fields and not see people that look like you… I think that’s something black students on campus bond over.” Barnett further states the apprehension that exists amongst communities of color regarding visiting and consulting medical professionals and is keen on facilitating open and honest discussions on the state of healthcare amongst the black community.

“I want to help mend that barrier in my community,” says Barnett

 “I want to be one of the changemakers.”