Stellar experience leads grad in new directions
By Diane Luckow
Ciara Morgan-Feir wasn’t a stargazer until she volunteered at one of professor Howard Trottier’s astronomy workshops for kids during her first semester at SFU.
“The workshops opened my eyes to the opportunities for learning in astronomy and the amazing stuff in space, and I was involved in almost every astronomy workshop after that,” she says.
Now, five years later, Morgan-Feir is graduating with a B.Sc. in biology, which is her first love, and a keen ambition to work in science outreach.
“Astronomy is such a compelling way of doing that,” she says.
She has just returned from a two-week expedition to Chile’s Atacama desert with Impossible2Possible, a non-profit organization that combines adventure with education during a six-day running marathon.
She volunteered as the education team’s astronomy expert.
“I taught astronomy every day as the participants ran through the desert,” she says. “We took video clips of the lessons and put together school activities so that kids online could watch and do the same lessons we were doing in the field.”
During her undergraduate studies, she worked part-time as an SFU student advisor, and volunteered one day a week at the Aboriginal Front Door Society’s harm reduction program, where she used her biology background to help reduce blood-born diseases and high-risk behavior. She is now an administrative assistant there.
She says her volunteer commitments enriched her classroom learning.
“Last semester I was taking a health sciences class about the global HIV epidemic while working in harm reduction,” she says. “It made my education much more multi-faceted than it would have been otherwise.”
Morgan-Feir set her sights on attending SFU at age eight, after her father attended a conference at the Burnaby campus and told her about the university in the middle of a forest atop a mountain.
“I’ve loved every second of my time at SFU,” she says. “As SFU students, we’re really privileged. Not everyone has the opportunities for positive growth that we have, so I like to help others to achieve that.”