International Studies graduate builds opportunities for those following in her footsteps


Although Ayaan Ismail is graduating this fall, the International Studies student’s efforts to uplift and support her peers will have lasting impact on the SFU community.

Ayaan came from Kenya to study at SFU in 2016, as part of the World University Services of Canada (WUSC)’s Student Refugee Program. The scholarship program is highly competitive and supports Refugee students in continuing with their post-secondary education.

Ayaan admits that her main focus upon arrival was simply adjusting to life in Vancouver and the new learning environment at a Canadian university. She tried courses in International Studies due to her interest in international relations.

Ayaan’s interest in International Studies was furthered by the opportunity to take classes focusing on the African continent and its politics. In particular, she praises instructor Geetanjali Gill, who she describes as “an engaged professor who went out of her way to support students as they needed”.

“When studying forced migration, Geetanjali was one of the first professors I had who really centred voices of folks with refugee experience in the course materials,” Ayaan says.

Ayaan’s connection to issues surrounding forced migration is personal, stemming from her lived experiences. She proudly describes herself as a young Black African Refugee woman, with a background deeply rooted in community-centred practices and radical community care. Ayaan’s perspective is inspired and informed by radical Black African feminism that applies decolonial, anti-racist and intersectional frameworks.

Read more on the International Studies web site ...

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