“During my first semester at SFU, I took classes in an array of different subjects. My criminology class got me the most excited to learn every week, which led me to declare my major in criminology.”


Involvement in the community paired with curiosity: One student’s key to success at SFU

July 30, 2021

By Adriana González Braniff

Arshpreet Dhillon, recently graduated from Simon Fraser University School of Criminology's undergraduate program, attributes asking questions when confused or in need of help as her key to success at SFU. “Professors and TA’s can seem intimidating, but they are there to help and want to see you succeed!” she says.

Dhillon, who convocated in June 2021, believes her involvement in the community paired with her curiosity and willingness to ask questions, created a pleasant and successful undergraduate career for her at SFU. A proud recipient of the SFU Dean’s Honour Roll and the SFU President’s Honour Roll across multiple semesters, she was also nominated for the SFU Governor General’s Silver Medal, awarded to the two undergraduate students judged to have the most outstanding records in the graduating class. Even though she did not end up receiving the medal, Dhillon’s hard work, dedication, outstanding scholastic records, and contributions to the SFU community deserve to be recognized. 

She was involved in the Simon Fraser University Criminology Student Association (CSA) as the treasurer and strongly believes her involvement in the CSA enriched her experience at SFU, inspiring her to create a positive environment for SFU Criminology students. The Criminology Student Association Action-Group, a criminology-related volunteer experience that Dhillon particularly enjoyed, was a space where students learned about Indigenization in the criminology curriculum. These conversations created space for suggestions and ideas from criminology students to present to the faculty in the department. “The project was rooted in the inclusivity that the CSA aspires to achieve,” she says.

Dhillon believes “SFU criminology is taught by an outstanding group of faculty members,” and wishes she had the opportunity to take classes with all of them. She is especially thankful for her classes with lecturer Danielle Murdoch, assistant professor Alissa Greer, and term lecturer Tamie Fennig, who all had an everlasting impression on her.

Lecturer Danielle Murdoch helped Dhillon develop clear and concise writing skills that she believes will help her succeed in future endeavours. Assistant professor Alissa Greer's passion for drug policy inspired Dhillon to push herself to learn more, and the course she taught, Current Issues in Drug Policy (CRIM 417), was by far her favourite course at SFU. “The course provided me with a new perspective on the opioid crisis and motivated me to be a part of drug policy reform,” she says. Term lecturer Tamie Fennig also left a positive mark for Dhillon, as she “displayed great compassion during the switch to online school, creating a supportive and accessible environment during stressful times.” 

Now that Dhillon has graduated from SFU Criminology, her short-term goals include continuing to work as a research assistant in drug policy research, an opportunity that allows her to “continue learning in the field of criminology and contributing to change in academia.” Her long-term goal is to attend law school in the Fall of 2022, and she is currently studying for the LSAT!

The best words of wisdom Dhillon can offer to an undergraduate student is to be open to new opportunities, even if they are different from what you are used to. “When I started at SFU, I had a clear goal to go to law school in mind. I am still planning on attending law school, but I also took the opportunity to work in drug policy research. That was never a part of my original plan, but it was the best decision, as I found a new area of criminology that I am now passionate about.”

Without a doubt, exploring your options in terms of courses, programs, volunteering, and research opportunities can enrich your experience both during your undergraduate career and beyond graduation.