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Well-rounded economics undergrad selected to speak at Fall Convocation
When Jhanvi Indatissa left her home in Sri Lanka five years ago to study business at Fraser International College (FIC) in Burnaby, she says it didn’t occur to her to be nervous— she was just too excited.
The nervousness has crept in now though as she has been selected to be the student speaker at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) convocation ceremony where she herself will cross the stage to receive her economics undergraduate degree. Indatissa is no stranger to the convocation stage – you may recognize her as the singer of Canada’s national anthem at previous convocation ceremonies – but she admits that public speaking feels more intimidating.
When she started at FIC she had no interest in studying economics, confessing that in high school economics had always been her toughest subject.
However, her affinity for mathematics led her to enroll in a few quantitative based introductory economics courses, and she was suprised that they piqued her interest. She discovered that she liked the way economics taught her to think strategically and explore ways to maximize outcomes when making decisions. By the end of her first year at Simon Fraser University (SFU), she made the switch to major in economics.
During her second year, Indatissa took ECON 104: Economics and Government with professor Krishna Pendakur and describes a lightbulb moment that sparked her passion. She says Pendakur told students to look at a cup of coffee, and think of all of the resources around the world that had gone into the production of that single item. She says that before that, “I felt like economics was mainly mathematical, but I didn’t think it could be something more where you could take these concepts and apply them to real-world situations".
When asked what advice she had for students starting out at SFU, Indatissa encourages students to get involved in their communities and find ways to give back, “Volunteer about something you are passionate about – not just to put it on your resume.” She credits her parents for instilling in her the importance of a well-rounded education. In addition to being a member of the SFU Choir, Indatissa volunteers with the SFU World University Services of Canada (WUSC) Student Refugee Program. Her work with the program has given her a sense of familiarity and connection, whether that’s helping new students find their way around campus or just spending time socializing together.
She was also involved with other student-focused groups on campus such as SFPIRG, the Sri Lankan Students Association, Passport to Leadership, and the Peer Mentorship program. During her free time, she also representedSFU in the community by volunteering with the Immigrant Services Society of BC and EAL conversation club at MOSAIC.
Indatissa’s last piece of advice for students is, “Take classes outside of your major, especially in your first and second year – who knows, you might find a new trajectory for your future.” As for her own future, Indatissa knows only that she wants to do “good work in meaningful ways”. We can’t wait to see where she ends up.
Indatissa will be speaking at the FASS Convocation ceremony on October 6th at 2:30pm. Her family will be tuning in from Sri Lanka to watch the livestream.