Economics PhD graduate builds community through knowledge sharing

October 01, 2021

After six years of balancing his commitments as a father, graduate student, and a teaching assistant, doctoral candidate Farouk Abdul-Salam will cross the Convocation stage this fall and embark on his new career as an economist with Amazon. Known for his warm smile and enthusiasm, Abdul-Salam has been a welcoming face around the hallways of Simon Fraser University's (SFU) Department of Economics.

Born and raised in Ghana, Abdul-Salam grew up learning the importance of giving back to your community, which has shaped his passion for teaching and knowledge sharing. His efforts have been widely recognized by the Department, and in 2019 he received the Terry Heaps Outstanding Teaching Assistant (TA) Award, which Abdul-Salam considers one of the proudest moments of his academic career.

"My teaching philosophy is built on empathy and respect," says Abdul-Salam. "Having experienced difficult moments as a student, I know how it feels and this guides how I interact with my students."

Abdul-Salam goes above and beyond when it comes to helping his students—often volunteering his time on top of his already busy schedule to help with job applications and graduate school applications. Going beyond the classrooms at SFU, Abdul-Salam also offers free online workshops to the public on mathematics, economics, programming, and financial accounting.

Inspired by SFU Economics alumnus and Ghanaian Vice-President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, and by the Department's reputation for research excellence, Abdul-Salam moved his family to British Columbia after completing his master's degree at the University of Manitoba. Working on his doctoral thesis while raising two young children and juggling various responsibilities is no small feat but Abdul-Salam is grateful for the strong support system that has accompanied him every step of the way. 

"My SFU experience encompassed everything life can offer—from difficult moments to exciting times," says Abdul-Salam. "My biggest challenge was the loss of my father during my first year. It was tough but I was able to overcome it thanks to the support of my wife, family, colleagues, and the Department." 

Abdul-Salam together with his wife Samira Seidu and their two children.

As his time at SFU comes to a close, Abdul-Salam reflects on the significance of his experiences. "Moving forward, my plan is to use all the skills, knowledge and experience I acquired towards shaping the next chapter of my life. I'm happy to say it is already proving useful in my new position." 

"My success would not have been possible without the continued support of the Department of Economics - special mention goes to my supervisors Luba Petersen, Bertille Antoine and Rajiv Kozhikode, retired professor Mahmood Khan, the administrative staff, and all my colleagues."

In the lead-up to our Fall 2021 Convocation, we'll be sharing stories from across our eight faculties about some of our amazing graduands. 

SFU’s Fall 2021 Convocation will be held Oct. 5-8. It will be the university’s first in-person convocation since 2019. The ceremonies will be webcast on SFU’s YouTube channel for those wanting to join in from home and around the world. For more information about SFU’s Fall 2021 Convocation, visit Read more about our exceptional graduands here.

Be sure to share your convocation experience on social media by using the #MySFUGrad hashtag.