Olessya Akimenko

"For as long as I remember, I have always had an affinity for teaching."

Current Student
Program/Degree:
Languages, Cultures and Literacies, PhD

I'm originally from Kazakhstan, and I immigrated to Canada in 2019. For as long as I remember, I have always had an affinity for teaching. In my childhood, I enjoyed gathering my toys and pretending to give them a lesson, or playing "school" with my cousins, where I always had to be a teacher, of course. I started teaching English even before I received my Bachelor in Education degree. I felt that I needed to extend my knowledge of the educational system and develop my research skills. I decided to pursue further studies in the Master in Educational Leadership program at Nazarbayev University (NU), the leading higher education institution Kazakhstan. After receiving my Degree, my fascination with teaching English led me to co-found a language school, where I served as a Headteacher and ESL instructor. In my language school, I tried to diversify and enhance language teaching methods and test preparation by combining and applying various teaching approaches. When I finally decided to focus more on my research, I applied for the Languages, Cultures and Literacies, PhD at the Simon Fraser University. I am enjoying the program and am delighted with my research progress.

Please tell us how you first discovered your program.

When I decided that I want to pursue my studies further, I immediately started looking for a program that suited my research interests. Languages, Cultures and Literacies, PhD immediately came to my attention as it focused exactly on what I was looking for in the program. The interdisciplinary nature and the comprehensive curriculum make this program ideal for me.

Please tell us why you chose the Faculty of Education at SFU for your studies.

I chose the Faculty of Education at SFU because it is one of the most prominent in the field, well-known for its extensive cooperation- and inclusion-based research on a wide variety of subjects. 

Who is a faculty member you have enjoyed working with and why?

All faculty members I met, was taught by, and worked with are amazing scholars and educators. I am incredibly thankful to Dr. Steve Marshall and Dr. Angel Lin for their amazing support and for all the knowledge they shared with me. However, I am most grateful to my supervisor, Dr. Ena Lee, who has been so supportive since the beginning of the program. Without her help, I would not be where I am now with my research. She is the best research supervisor one can wish for.

What inspires you to learn and continue your education?

I want to enhance my understanding of language theory and research methods related to applied linguistics and second language acquisition. I believe that this program will allow me to master my research skills since I see my career as an academic researcher and educator. 

What would you say to prospective students who are considering graduate school in the Faculty of Education?

I would say that you would have the best professors and the best support you can find here. 

Is there anything else you wish to share? 

I am very happy to have joined this program. I have learned a lot, and I keep learning.