June 2021 graduand speakers

The June 2021 graduand speakers were selected by the faculties and the Registrar based on student achievement and extracurricular involvement.

Ceremony A

Waleed Hakeem

BA, French and Linguistics
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Waleed Hakeem is graduating with a bachelor of arts in French and linguistics, and a certificate in the linguistics of speech sciences. During his time at SFU, Waleed served as secretary on the Linguistics Student Union, which focused heavily this year on providing students with an immersive university experience during remote learning. Waleed completed a semester at the University of Montreal in 2019, studying linguistics and Québécois literature—a highlight of his university experience. His active participation in French classes and advocacy for the cultural arts was recognized with the Department of French Scholarship and the Dr. Grazia Merler Scholarship. He hopes to study law, and will begin studying for the LSAT this fall. Waleed is humbled to speak at the 2021 Convocation and offers his sincerest congratulations to all fellow graduates.

Ceremony B

Zeynep Ekin Buran

BA, Criminology
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

An international student from Turkey, Ekin Buran is graduating with a bachelor of arts in criminology and psychology, along with a certificate in legal studies. Ekin is a feminist and social justice activist who is passionate about supporting marginalized minority groups. She is a committed volunteer who has led various campus-based campaigns and initiatives, including serving as a career peer educator, a community leader at SFU Global Connections, and local committee chair of World University Services of Canada. She was selected as a Simon Fraser Student Society 2021 Woman of the Year for her contributions and advocacy on behalf of the campus community. Ekin dreams of working with the United Nations to protect human rights, promote international peace and create opportunities for others.

Ceremony C

Kimberley John

BA, Indigenous Studies and Health Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Kimberley John is graduating with a bachelor of arts, having earned a double major in Indigenous studies and health sciences. Kimberley is Coast Salish, and during her time at SFU she worked as a research assistant for The People and the Text—an online Indigenous literature archival project—and also as an assistant for the Indigenous University Preparation Program. This fall, Kimberley will continue her studies at the SFU School of Public Policy.

Ceremony D

Erik Brinkman

Master of Business Administration
Beedie School of Business

Erik Brinkman is a tree planter turned business executive in the resource management sector. He has planted more than 1.5 million trees by hand and continues to work with his family firm on mission-critical sustainability projects and initiatives. Erik’s (previous) proudest academic achievement was dropping out of university to apprentice with an Indigenous shaman in the Amazon for a year. He is an artist, illustrator, and music producer, who settles Syrian families in Canada with a private refugee sponsorship group that he co-founded and chairs. He enjoys woodworking, stained glass, and hunting—for beach glass with his three-year-old. Inspired by the calibre of the Beedie community, Erik recently co-founded an investment fund for fellow EMBA alumni.

Jie (Jenny) Lian

Beedie School of Business

Jenny Lian is graduating with a bachelor of business administration and a certificate in business analytics and decision making. With a focus on mentorship and creating genuine impact in her community, Jenny inspired young high school students to create their own sustainable start-ups during her time at Bright Ideas SFU. She also provided pro-bono consulting services to help local not-for-profit organizations, and was actively involved in prestigious business competitions such as SFU JDC West and CaseIT. In addition to a semester abroad in Austria, Jenny successfully completed three co-op placements, most recently leading company-wide technology transformation initiatives at RBC in Toronto. This fall, she is excited to begin a career in consulting as an analyst at Deloitte.

Ceremony E

Dr. Mohammad-Reza Ghovanloo

PhD, Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology
Faculty of Science

Dr. Mohammad-Reza Ghovanloo studied electrical signalling in graduate school. His work on the effects and mechanism of cannabinoids on sodium channels—one of the first papers published in that area—attracted media attention. Dr. Ghovanloo has received many awards and honours, including scholarships and fellowships valued at more than $200,000. He has co-authored 12 scientific publications, owns a provisional patent, has given more than 20 presentations at various prestigious international and institutional conferences, and written op-eds for major outlets including The Toronto Star. Throughout his PhD, he also spent time as a researcher at Xenon Pharmaceuticals and SciLifeLab in Sweden. As well, Dr. Ghovanloo served the community through various elected and volunteer positions. He is currently taking post-doctoral training in molecular neuroscience at Yale University School of Medicine.

Aidan Anthony Wright

BSc, Physics
Faculty of Science

Aidan Wright is graduating with a bachelor of science in physics. He is infinitely grateful to have been born in Vancouver, where he earned his IB diploma from New Westminster Secondary and then came to SFU on scholarship to study physics. An enthusiastic stargazer, he was a volunteer with SFU’s Starry Nights program. He is grateful to the brilliant scholars in the physics department, particularly his undergraduate thesis supervisors Barbara Frisken and Eric Schibli. Aidan looks to acknowledge his accumulated privilege by empowering the less fortunate and by repairing the environment we all depend on. He currently plants trees in the B.C. Interior.

Ceremony F

Rasha Syed

BSc, Health Sciences
Faculty of Health Sciences

Rasha Syed is excited to be graduating from the Faculty of Health Sciences with a bachelor of science and a minor in Indigenous studies. Within her faculty, Rasha participated in the Peer Mentorship Program and gained work experience as a research and evaluation assistant at the Fraser Health Authority through the co-op program. Additionally, Rasha volunteered with the Muslim Students Association, serving on the executive and more recently as club president. She was a student at-large representative on the SFSS Member Services Advisory Committee, and lead volunteer at SFU’s Multifaith Centre. An avid chef and hiking enthusiast, Rasha is looking forward to pursuing her passions of faith-based work, Indigenous health, and research in the professional world.

Ceremony G

Dr. Alexandra Jean Kitson

PhD, Interactive Arts and Technology
Faculty Communication, Art and Technology

Dr. Alexandra Kitson’s dissertation, “Designing for Self-transcendent Experiences in Virtual Reality,” focuses on the design of virtual reality experiences that support a decreased sense of self and an increased feeling of unity with others and the world. Dr. Kitson published three first-author journal papers and more than 20 refereed conference papers during her doctoral studies. She achieved a 4.28 CGPA for her PhD and received many awards, including the SSHRC Doctoral Award. She served as chair for the Graduate Student Society and volunteered at the Vancouver Crisis Centre. Currently, she has a postdoctoral appointment at SFU where she is designing, developing and evaluating emerging technologies, such as virtual reality and wearables, to support emotion regulation and well-being in youth.

Hobson Guang Ze Lin

BA, Communication
Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology

Hobson Lin is graduating with a bachelor of arts from the Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology. Passionately committed to community engagement, he was active in SFU’s Orientation and Welcome Day initiatives, as well as FCAT’s Undergraduate Conference and Peer Mentorship program. With a major in communication, minors in dialogue in communication and print and digital publishing, and having dabbled in Interactive Arts and Technology and Contemporary Arts, he’s embraced the interdisciplinary opportunities provided by the faculty’s unique amalgamation of schools and programs. He is looking forward to working in communications, and is hopeful there will be post-pandemic opportunities to foster in-person interactions through employee engagement, celebrations, and collaborative civic participation.

Ceremony H

Dr. Alexandra Maria Patzak

PhD, Educational Psychology
Faculty of Education

Dr. Alexandra Patzak received a 2021 Graduate Dean’s Medal for her work anddoctoral thesis: “Measuring and Understanding Self-handicapping in Education”. At SFU’s Student Learning Commons, she was privileged to collaborate with inspiring colleagues and mentor fellow students with special needs to help them reach their academic goals. Following her passion for teaching and research, Dr. Patzak is now an assistant professor in educational psychology at George Mason University in Virginia, where she teaches graduate-level courses and advances research to reduce counterproductive selfregulated learning. Dr. Patzak is grateful for the support of her amazing family, remarkable mentors and dear friends who made her doctoral journey a wonderful experience. Pursuing a PhD at SFU was the best decision she ever made.

Marie-Gabrielle Bechard

BEnv, Resource and Environmental Management
Faculty of Environment

Marie-Gabrielle Bechard is graduating with a bachelor of environment in resource and environmental management from the Faculty of Environment. A proud member of the Francophone community, Marie-Gabrielle has coordinated multiple bilingual projects such as Femmes Ensemble, a Women’s Day Celebration in the Downtown Eastside. She has also been involved with programs such as the Sustainability Peers, Semester in Dialogue, and Francophone Youth Parliaments. As a peer mentor for the Comox Youth Climate Council, Marie-Gabrielle supports youth in her community to advocate for climate action at the local and provincial level. She will attend UBC in the fall to pursue a master of community and regional planning with a concentration in Indigenous community planning.