Expanding Horizons: Dr. Awneet Sivia's Journey to the YWCA Women of Distinction Nomination

May 09, 2024

Education alumnus Dr. Awneet Sivia (MSc ’98, PhD ‘17) is a nominee for the YWCA Women of Distinction Awards in the Education, Training, and Development category. This nomination recognizes her dedication to educational leadership, where she has consistently pushed for innovation and inclusivity. 

Dr. Sivia is applying her experience at the University of the Fraser Valley to develop programs that bring together teachers and learners in new ways.

It was during her time at Simon Fraser University that Dr. Sivia's approach to education began to take shape. The Faculty of Education provided a platform for her to explore and question traditional methods, an instrumental perspective in her professional journey. Her move from focusing on mathematics education to engaging deeply with curriculum theory and implementation highlights her evolving interests and the broad scope of her impact on education.

Q: How does it feel being recognized for your contributions to educational leadership?

A: The nomination is an incredible honour. I feel grateful to be considered in the company of so many amazing women who are changing the world to make it better, safer, and more just for all. For me, the nomination is the win! Being nominated means that the work I do in teaching, educational leadership, and community engagement is valued as having a meaningful, positive impact. 

Q: How did your background in Mathematics Education and experience as an educator influence your decision to pursue a PhD in Curriculum Theory and Implementation? 

A: Although I was in the mathematics education stream initially, my area shifted to science education due to my role as a secondary science teacher during the time of my master's. My shift to a curriculum, theory and implementation focus in the PhD was a direct result of the transformative experiences I had teaching in the Professional Development Program (PDP) and later becoming a Faculty Associate and Coordinator in the Faculty of Education. 

The transformations of identity and practice that my student teachers experienced and that I experienced in my transition from teacher-to-teacher educator raised many questions for me about teaching, learning, and curriculum. I was inspired by the work of critical pedagogues and curriculum theorists that I was reading to reframe teaching as an act of social justice and the fact that the planned curriculum was far less important than the living curriculum that walked through the doors of classrooms. 

Building a curriculum grounded in the lives of my students and connected to the realities of the world around them was a huge shift in how I saw my work as an educator; this became the prism through which I approached my research and studies into curriculum theory and teaching.     

Q: How did your experiences at SFU impact your teaching career and your work in the community? 

A: My career trajectory and vision for transformative education are directly attributed to my experiences at SFU as a graduate student and instructor. SFU thinks big, goes bold, and challenges the status quo. Those are my motivations, and I have SFU to thank for bringing those out in my vision of being an educational leader today. I have much respect and gratitude for the excellent teachers, mentors, and colleagues I had the pleasure to get to know through my time at SFU. They shaped my passion for teaching, learning, and educational reform. SFU helped me to imagine possibilities and dream big dreams.