Student athlete knows how to race the clock

Human and Social Development, Co-op

- Stephanie Harrington


As an Academic All-Canadian for three years, Mariah Fulton knows a thing or two about time management. Namely, when juggling rigorous studies, the demands of varsity swimming and part-time work, you use time wisely—very wisely.

Fulton, who graduates with a Bachelor of Health Information Science in June, was a member of the University of Victoria’s swim team for three years, competing in sprinting events under 200 metres, including backstroke, freestyle and butterfly. 

She joined the ranks of other student-athletes on the Vikes Honour Roll for achieving a minimum of 6.6 GPA during the previous school year, while training and competing at the highest level of sport.

“It was definitely a challenge,” Fulton says. “I had to make sure what I was doing had value for school and swimming.”

On a typical day, Fulton would arrive for swim practice at 5:30 a.m., after which she’d work part-time, then go to classes in the afternoon and head to the pool for another practice around 4:30 p.m., followed by school work in the evening. On “single days,” she had the morning off from swimming, instead focussing on work and classes, followed by swim practice in the afternoon. She travelled, often off the island, for competitive swim meets once or twice a month.

So, how did she keep pace with it all?

“It was really fun,” she says with a laugh. “Definitely hard, no question about it. Because the schedule is planned out for you, it helped motivate me to stay on top of things.”

Fulton was a novice rower for UVic in her first year and has a love of all water sports, but swimming is a passion. 

“I like the individuality of swimming. It’s all on you, if you’re willing to push yourself,” she says. “You also have a team; everyone’s supporting you.” 

Both her father and cousins were competitive swimmers, so it’s no wonder Fulton started swimming competitively in grade three. Being a varsity swimmer has been a rewarding opportunity for Fulton, despite the intense schedule.

“I thought, ‘I’m not going to get the opportunity to do it again at such a high level. If I have the opportunity, why not take it?’” she says.

Fulton came across the field of health informatics during her first year at UVic, after a professor suggested she take a course. She applied to the School of Health Information Science and hasn’t looked back since. 

Born in Singapore, where her parents met, Fulton moved with her family to the Netherlands at age three, where she lived until moving in Vancouver at age 12. Fulton says health informatics is more widely known about in other countries, although that is changing. She describes the growing and high-demand field as a “bridge between computer science and clinicians.” 

“We provide a communications stream between people who know a lot about computer science and people who know critical patient information, such as nurses, clerks and clinicians,” she says. 

Fulton completed four co-op placements in health informatics, including with Fraser Health working with a mobile health unit and in vaccine clinics training physicians and nurses to enter health data. 

Her next three co-ops took place in various departments in Island Health, where she is now employed full-time working in critical care and heart health. Her days are spent problem solving, analyzing and coming up with solutions to support busy health professionals, helping them reduce paperwork and improve their workflow.

I really enjoy being part of the health-care industry and knowing that what I do does make a difference. If we make a nurse’s day easier, they can spend more time with a patient. If we can improve how requisitions are sent in, maybe more people can get a MRI quicker and can stay healthier longer.”

—UVic health information science graduate Mariah Fulton

Although Fulton hopes to stay involved in competitive swimming in some way in the future, for now she is happy to focus on building her career. 

“[Swimming] had such a large impact in my life,” she says, “but I’m pretty excited for this new chapter and to find other activities that interest me.”


In this story

Keywords: convocation, health, student life, athletics, co-op

People: Mariah Fulton

Publication: The Ring

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