Mar 28, 2024

Humans of LMP undergrad special! Victoria Fortuna

Programs: Undergraduate, Agile education, Inclusive community
Victoria Fortuna

Each month we speak to a member of the Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology community and find out more about them as part of an initiative from our Wellness, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Committee (WIDE).

This month we feature several of our undergraduate students in the Specialist Program in Pathobiology as we celebrate the graduating class of 2024. You can see a video (Youtube) and photos (Flickr) of our graduation celebration.

Meet Victoria Fortuna!

What are you studying at LMP and why are you interested in studying it?   

In first year, while scrolling through the numerous program options offered at U of T, I remember coming across the LMP specialist and knowing instantly that this was the program for me. I was very intrigued by the study of pathobiology and its focus on investigating the mechanisms of diseases at a molecular and cellular level and I wanted a program that would nurture my passion for scientific research. After three years in the LMP specialist program, I can now confidently say that this program proved to be the perfect fit.

The program's strong emphasis on research has not only encouraged me to actively participate in research endeavors but also provided me with a solid foundation to apply my skills effectively. Through LMP’s close affiliations with leading doctors and professors from prominent hospitals, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Ali Sakhdari at Toronto General Hospital as well as become a member of Dr. Augusto Zani’s research lab at SickKids where I am currently investigating respiratory diseases in neonates.

Additionally, the knowledge I gained from this program opened my eyes to the complexities of various diseases and the diverse research methodologies used to study them. Some standout LMP courses for me included: LMP320, where I delved into the pathobiology of stem cells and their crucial roles in development; LMP415, where I explored forensic pathobiology and the intricacies associated with diverse causes of death; and LMP430, where I learned about complex metabolic pathways and disorders. 

What is the most interesting thing you’ve done, seen or got involved with while at LMP?  

Being an executive member of the LMP Student's Union (LMPSU) this year has been a very rewarding experience for me. I’ve enjoyed organizing social events for LMP students, creating engaging graphics for our social media platforms and, recently, designing the new LMP merchandise!

However, the highlight of my experience was being involved in promoting and coordinating this year's annual LMPSU conference, "Why Brain Matter Matters: Navigating Neurodegeneration". The turnout for this year's conference exceeded our expectations and it was immensely gratifying to witness the enthusiastic engagement of so many attendees with the research being presented.

What was the best career advice you ever received?   

One of the most impactful pieces of career advice I ever received came from my favorite show, The Office: "You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take – Wayne Gretzky" – Michael Scott. While humorous, this quote reminds me to take risks and seize opportunities even if they may be intimidating at first!

What has been an important learning experience in your life?   

Becoming a Child Life volunteer at SickKids has been an eye-opening learning experience for me. Interacting with patients and their families has allowed me to be empathetic and has taught me the significance of providing support to those in need.

Who is an influential person in your life and why?  

My parents who taught me from a very young age that it is important to work hard and always put forward my best effort regardless of how big or how small a task may seem.

What would it surprise people to know about you?  

Swimming has been a big passion of mine since childhood. I competed in swim competitions and obtained certifications as a swim instructor and lifeguard. 

What activities do you enjoy doing outside of your studies?  

Some of my favourite pastimes outside of work include swimming, cooking, travelling, drawing, and spending quality time with friends and family.

What is your favourite album, film, and novel?  

Album: Stick Season by Noah Kahan

Film: Interstellar

Novel: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Who would be your dream dinner guests? 

Rosalind Franklin, Emmanuelle Charpentier, and Jennifer Doudna.

Where/what is your favourite place?  

Last summer, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to and explore Iceland, a destination that had long been at the top of my bucket list. Some of the highlights of my trip were horse-back riding on the beach, chasing waterfalls and relaxing in geothermal spas. This trip was an unforgettable experience and definitely the most awe-inspiring place I have ever visited.

If you were stuck on a deserted island but had all your basic needs taken care of (i.e. food and water), what two items would you bring with you and why? 

I would bring along my fluffy Cockapoo, Zoe, who is not only great company and but is also super cute and I would pack a stash of Trader Joe’s mini milk chocolate peanut butter cups as they are delicious and an absolute necessity for me.

Visit the Humans of LMP page to read more stories and nominate yourself or others to be featured.