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Barrie couple overcomes challenges of tornado and long-distance to pursue dreams

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The tornado that swept through a south-end Barrie neighbourhood in July 2021 uprooted trees and the lives of those living in the community, including Megan Kirk Chang and her husband Brandon, who are now looking ahead to their future after a turbulent 18 months.

Megan just landed her dream job, becoming a senior researcher at the University of Oxford in England.

It took her about a decade to get to this point, and her path has been anything but predictable.

Ironically, just weeks before the EF-2 twister, Megan had completed her Ph.D. dissertation on post-traumatic stress disorder.

"I think that the experience we have had together has helped me be a better researcher because I am able to connect with people going through really tough experiences," she said.

After the tornado, the Changs, who were born and raised in Barrie, were forced to live separately for a year and a half.

Megan had taken a job at Yale University just two weeks after the disaster, while Brandon, who teaches at Georgian College, moved in with his parents.

"It was kind of all hands on deck for a good 15 to 18 months where just so much was happening. We're living in different countries. We're travelling back and forth, lots of work being done in the house," Brandon said.

Now they are finally back home together, although there are still signs of damage on the street.

But amidst the chaos, the Changs consider themselves lucky.

"One of the fortunate things that came from this is we've become really good friends with our neighbours across the street. It's a shared experience, and we go out for dinners now. It's been really wonderful," Megan said.

She will leave for Oxford at the end of the month to fill a three-year contract and said she and Brandon would take some time to decide their next steps.

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