FCAT June 2022 Convocation: Looking back

June 06, 2022

We called on this year’s FCAT student speaker, medal recipients, and graduates to reflect on their experiences as university students. Here is some of what they had to say:

FCAT Student Speaker: Fegor Obuwoma, BFA, School for the Contemporary Arts

Fegor is a Nigerian filmmaker, storyteller, cultural critic, and artist. At SFU she majored in film production and minored in communication, and her films encompass the themes of Black agency, Black spirituality, intersectional feminism, and African futurism. Her work has been showcased in both gallery spaces and independent film festivals and has received acclaim from both peers and professionals in the art field. She recently earned SFU’s Archambault Memorial Award in Film, recognizing independent spirit and innovation. Fegor had a keen interest in social justice and community development: she serves campus organizations that share her core values, including the Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group (SFPIRG) and SFU Students of Caribbean and African Ancestry (SOCA). Fegor comes from a long line of amazing people who have dreamt unimaginable futures into existence. As she furthers her studies, Fegor hopes to pursue an interdisciplinary career in the arts that centres the stories of people, community, and self.

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Tell us about your time as an undergraduate student?

I think I had a lot of fun moments, during the pandemic I made a film with my two roommates at the time and it was so fun, low budget, chill and honestly learned so much about myself as a filmmaker. It’s titled “In memory of who we were” and it’s about my experience in a Catholic all-girls boarding school in Nigeria. The conceptual classes were also so fun, I was happy to think about film in really expansive ways, well it's really hard to find a mainstream show or film I like now because of this degree but totally worth it.

My work at SFPIRG and SOCA I stumbled into it in a sense because I never expected to work in the positions I did but I found my way there. I feel fortunate to have worked as a part of these groups because you really begin to understand how you can advocate for yourself and your community while still at university. A lot of what I know and how I move through the world I owe it to working with them really, it was always interesting and educational.

What are you most excited for at Convocation?

I’m excited about holding my degree, I saw my friend's degree last semester, and I want my own pretty piece of paper to crown my 4 years of sweat. Also, I hope I don’t fall when I get on stage, it's ok though already devised a plan with my friends in case that happens.

What are your next plans with exploring an interdisciplinary career in the arts?

The arts, so uncertain. I’d like to get a job in maybe art programming and then go for an interdisciplinary art program for grad school later on. Also making films on the side, I love film conceptually but I can’t stand set life so I’m trying something else. I also love a good workshops, I think I’ll attend a lot of them in my lifetime.

Graduate Dean's Medal: Dr. Alberto Lusoli, PhD, School of Communication

For almost two years, Alberto Lusoli studied the professional lives of Vancouver's tech workers. His research—supported by the Mozilla Foundation and the SFU Big Data initiative—examines how the mythology of start-up entrepreneurship is reshaping corporate organigrams, informing local development policies, and constituting new professional identities and collective work cultures. During his time as a graduate student he also served as editor-in-chief at Stream, the graduate journal of SFU’s School of Communication. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Digital Democracies Institute, investigating the biases and limitations of AI-powered content moderation algorithms.

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In your research, are there any findings you’d like to share?

One of the aspects that my research investigated deals with the way in which the culture of startup entrepreneurship influences how independent digital and new media workers think about themselves and their jobs. The findings show how the emphasis on flexibility and speed is pushing independent workers to remain constantly open to jumping on new projects (pivoting in start-up jargon) in order to maximize the chances of stumbling on successful ones. This need to stay flexible and agile at all costs justifies risk-prone practices of self-exploitation, which are usually perceived and experienced as performative displays of a proper hustling work ethic. The result is the proliferation of professional subjectivities (e.g., the digital nomad, the solopreneur, the freelance, the bootstrap entrepreneur) trapped in a state of perpetual becoming, where self-actualization and stability seems always one project away but is never achieved.

Tell us about your time as a graduate student?

It was not an easy journey I admit, but I had a great time as a student at the School of Communication. I was very lucky to have an exceptional supervisor, Frederik Lesage, who helped me navigate the uncertainties of grad school. Many ideas in my dissertation came from the endless and engaging conversations I had with friends and colleagues. I also enjoyed working as Editor in chief at Stream, the SFU School of Communication grad journal. My favorite issue is issue #13. It’s a very meaningful issue because it was born out of a collaboration between the SFU School of Communication and the University of Calgary Department of Communication, Media and Film. It collects papers presented by grad students at the two conferences that SFU and UCalgary organized around the topic of “Crisis”. Working on this issue during the pandemic was a great way to think about this historical period from different perspectives.

What does the Graduate Dean’s Medal mean for you?

 I was not expecting it and I am honored of being a recipient. It’s an achievement I would have never been able to achieve without the support of my wife, Francesca, and it is to her that I want to dedicate this award.

Tell us about your experience as a postdoctoral researcher at the Digital Democracies Institute

I am thrilled to be working at the Digital Democracies Institute. The Institute is animated by incredibly talented people working on socially relevant projects. Currently, I am involved in the From hate to Agonism project. The project addresses the critically important challenge of detecting and countering abusive language online through novel and unbiased AI algorithms. Working on socially relevant projects and being surrounded by talented colleagues are the things I most appreciate about my job.

Is there any advice you'd like to share with students who are thinking about pursuing graduate studies?

My suggestion to students who are thinking about starting grad school is: be nice to yourself. Do not beat yourself if you feel disoriented, if you feel like you are not going anywhere, or if you feel like you do not fit. Just be gentle with yourself, give time to your ideas to flourish, and talk to your supervisor, friends and colleagues.

What are you most excited for at Convocation?

I saw so many convocations during my 8 years at SFU it’s hard to imagine it’s my turn now!

Inda Macias, MDM, Centre for Digital Media

Inda Macias is a project manager, production coordinator, and storyteller from Mexico with a degree in Communications & Digital Media from Tecnologico de Monterrey, a Film Production diploma from Vancouver Film School, and a Master of Digital Media degree from SFU. She has experience writing and directing short films, her latest, "Muscle Memory" was nominated for Best Student Production for the 2020 Leo Awards.

She loves to work on projects that involve storytelling and video production aiming towards visual communication. Her aspirations for project management are perfectly aligned with her effective communication and people skills, as well as 3 years of professional experience in Human Resources.

With the Master of Digital Media program, Inda was able to expand her skills and knowledge in all things Digital Media to pursue a career dedicated to film production and visual storytelling.  

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Tell us about your time as a MDM student. Do you have a favourite memory?

My time as a MDM student was a bit different from other cohorts since I was part of the only cohort (C15) that was fully online due to the pandemic. Even though all my classes and project meetings were online, I was able to have a great experience at the MDM program. I learned to work more independently, due to the remote nature of our class, while still being part of a team. My favourite moments where the final project presentations after every term, where we would all get to see what our other cohort classmates were working on.

Tell us how the MDM program helped your professional goals?

The MDM program helped me hone my skills as a project manager, I learned how to work with different types of personalities and professional backgrounds, which helped me have the confidence to apply for production roles in the film industry. I was able to land a role as a production coordinator for a 3D animation studio, and hopefully a production manager in the near future. 

Is there anything you’d like to tell future students who are interested in the MDM program?

The MDM experience is all about the diverse projects you work on, the different roles you have to take on, and the people you get to work with. I got really close to the people that I worked with throughout my time at The CDM, and it was all remote. I imagine that being able to share that experience in person would be even more gratifying.

What are you most excited for at Convocation? 

I am excited to wear a cap and gown for the first time in my professional career. I went to a high school and a University where my cohorts were smaller than 25 people, so we didn't have big graduation ceremonies. I am also excited to receive my MDM diploma after being part of the unique C15 class at The CDM.

Carolyn Yip, School of Interactive Arts and Technology  

Carolyn Yip began her degree at SFU in the Fall of 2016 and graduates this week with a Bachelor of Arts in Interactive Arts & Technology. During her time as a SIAT student, Carolyn was involved in the IAT student union and took part in several co-op internships at companies Destination British Columbia and Plasmatic Technologies. In these co-op roles Carolyn was able to gain experience in various fields including video editing, user experience design, and entrepreneurship.

Carolyn is now working as a UX/UI designer at Artefact, a strategy and design firm based in Seattle.