Noor Zehry Receives 2024 Sylvester Family Award

February 08, 2024
Noor Zehry

The Sylvester Family Award at the Centre for Dialogue was established at Simon Fraser University in 2020 with a generous three year commitment from Shauna Sylvester, the former Executive Director of SFU’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue. This year, the recipient is SFU Health Sciences student Noor Zehry, who has demonstrated a strong commitment in using dialogue to advance racial equity, inclusion and justice.

“The course was actually about storytelling, talking to people, building relationships, and this wasn't something that I have experienced before, throughout my degree”, says Noor, as she reflects back on her time in Semester in Dialogue. 

Coming to Canada 10 years ago, as an Egyptian Canadian, Noor was raised in both Dubai and Canada. She came into the Semester in Dialogue with a rich tapestry of experiences and viewpoints from all of the different health-care systems that she has encountered. As Noor reflects on her time in the Semester in Dialogue, she recounts how she is grateful to have been taught by instructor Dr. Finegood and how she has come to appreciate the value of dialogue, storytelling and active listening. Transitioning from a traditional academic setting to a more relational setting was new to Noor, which presented both challenges and opportunities for growth. This new environment was not only about the acquisition of knowledge but also its practical application through teamwork and interpersonal interactions. As a Health Sciences student in her last semester at SFU, Noor is passionate about community engagement and data-driven public health solutions. 

Noor Zehry with her Fall 2023 Semester in Dialogue cohort

“The more dialogue I experience, the more I value sharing and am comfortable with my ideas,” she says. “I have come to appreciate the value of storytelling so much. You can learn just from listening to someone else’s story…Appreciating that structure of storytelling just added the missing piece that I didn't know what was missing until I actually saw it in front of me.”

This experience inspired her to create her own community practice called (Health)y Dialogue, an initiative to bring SFU students at the Surrey campus to come together and connect over their experiences and visions for the future of public health, bridging academic insights with real-world applications. 

“I had two intentions with this initiative. The first one was that I wanted people to appreciate the nature of dialogue and how much you can actually learn just by storytelling and exchanging knowledge. The second intention was that I wanted [the initiative] to be a resource for students.” 

As Noor is finishing up her last semester of her Health Sciences degree at SFU, she is excited for the range of possibilities the future will bring. Noor believes that through open and honest discussions, we can unearth groundbreaking ideas that will shape the future of health-care. No matter what journey she embarks on next, Noor is excited to bring dialogue along for the ride.

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