September 23, 2015

Exploring a world of opportunity within FCAT


By Mack Stannard

What made you want to attend SFU for Communication?

I originally completed my Diploma of Technology, Broadcast & Media Communications as a radio student at BCIT but afterwards I wanted to complete a degree. What drew me to Communication was the social justice, cultural studies, and political aspects of the study communication.

How does your current Co-op position compliment your degree?

My current role is as the Special Projects Assistant for both the Communication and Arts and Social Sciences Co-op programs. In this position, I design marketing materials, write and edit blog posts, edit web content, analyze data, compile reports and help with in-class recruitment presentations. The thing I wanted to get the most out of this position was experience with Adobe software. I used to be a little scared (okay, a lot scared) to work with these programs, but I now have a pretty solid working knowledge. The things I have learned in my classes have complimented much of what I do in this diverse role.

What advice would you give to students looking for a Co-op job?

It sounds kind of cheesy, but if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. For me, it seemed that no one wanted to hire me and I was getting very discouraged. I was just about ready to give up on Co-op, when I met with my Co-op Coordinator. That really gave me the strength and encouragement I needed to stay in Co-op allowing me to land this position and I couldn’t be happier.

What sort of international experiences have you taken advantage of?

I applied to and was accepted into a Contemporary Arts Field School in India. I highly suggest taking advantage of opportunities like this while at SFU because it completely broadens your perspective of everything. We travelled to a number of different cities and places within India where I was able to meet many different people and see so many amazing things. By going with Contemporary Arts students, I was able to meet many fellow FCAT students and made some new friends in different areas of study. The courses I took during my field school covered topics such as Indian film, culture and art and so I was able to gain a different academic perspective. Going with a group of other students also really added to my time abroad because we were able to share in the experiences we had.

If someone was apprehensive about studying abroad what would you say to them?

I would say that it’s a good thing to feel apprehensive about leaving your country and going somewhere completely foreign to you. But, I would also say that this feeling shouldn’t stop you from going. Something I have realized over my time at SFU is that if something scares you, chances are that you should do it. This can be overwhelming at first, but in these spaces of uncertainty, you have to adapt and this creates opportunities for learning and personal growth.

What is your most memorable SFU experience?

I took a class called Colonialism, Culture and Identity (CMNS 424) that had a very intimate setting. All of my classmates were highly supportive of one another and completely dedicated to learning the course content. My eyes were opened to a lot of things in our society through in-depth discussions about Indigenous peoples; their cultures, their ways of knowing and being and their lived experiences. The course led to a very personal and very powerful discovery that I have Indigenous roots in my family. That class was an amazing experience and I strongly suggest anyone who has the chance to take it.

If you could give a piece of advice to an FCAT student, what would it be?

Don’t be afraid to talk to your professors. They are a huge resource and they are all very knowledgeable. I have been able use quite a few of my professors as references for scholarships and job applications because I took the time to build relationships with them. All it takes is going up to chat with them after class or going to visit them during their office hours.

If an FCAT student was looking for a fun way to compliment their classroom learning do you have a book or movie that you would you recommend to them?

I would say that everyone should read George Orwell’s novel 1984 because, not only is it a classic, but so much of it is applicable to the study of communication and technology today.

I would also strongly recommend the film A River Changes Course by filmmaker Kalyanee Mam. The film is a documentary that follows three families in Cambodia and their struggles in the face of rapid development, a product of globalization and capitalism.

If people want to ask you more questions, where can they find you?

Currently, you can drop by the Communication or Arts and Social Sciences Co-op offices and ask for me. Or, you can always e-mail me at