Convocation Profile: Samaah Jaffer, International Studies and World Literature

June 13, 2018

Samaah Jaffer was fascinated by global affairs and social justice from a very young age. In high school, she attended a lecture hosted by SFU's School for International Studies, and says, "It was incredibly exciting to learn that I could get a degree in a field dedicated to one of my greatest interests. I guess you can say that I had picked my major before being admitted to SFU!"

She was involved in a large number of activities at SFU, starting as a volunteer editor for ​Lyre​ Magazine, a journal run by undergraduate students in World Literature. She was the managing editor of the sixth edition published in 2015. Samaah also wrote for ​The Peak​, where she later worked as a proofreader and associate news editor.

She says that the most valuable learning experience of her undergraduate days was her co-op placement at SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement.

Samaah Jaffer (centre), featured in the Georgia Straight. Photo credit: Amanda Seibert

"Being immersed in critical dialogue, dynamic programming, and knowledge mobilization on the topics of social and environmental justice, arts and culture, and urban issues helped develop my awareness of the critical challenges facing our society. Through this position, I had the opportunity to meet and work with some incredible scholars, activists, and community leaders who inspired me to continue the work I was doing outside of my degree. My work as the BC editor at ​​ gave me the opportunity to amplify stories I felt were important to my communities."

Her community engagement work led to an appearance on the cover of the Georgia Straight, and a feature interview in the International Women's Day issue

Samaah's advice to future students: "I highly recommend talking to your professors as much as possible, both in and outside of the classroom. Attending office hours, participating in class discussions, and having informal discussions about coursework, or a particular area of interest, added a lot of depth and meaning to my education. Contrary to popular belief, Most professors I encountered were very unintimidating and eager to help and talk you through whatever it was that you were struggling with."

Her hard work had great results: Samaah will be starting a dual-degree Masters program (MA/MSc) this fall in International and World History at Columbia University and the London School of Economics. She's interested in studying how Islamic law has been historically understood and constructed outside of traditional scholarly spaces. 

Twitter: @samaahjaffer