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Rachel Wong is a communication honours student who has made the most of her time at SFU. Before completing her degree, she is already working in a full-time job in her field, pursuing passion projects, and looking for new academic research projects that spark her interest.
Wong currently hosts the Feminine Genius Podcast and works as a communications coordinator for the Vancity Office of Community Engagement at SFU. This fall she will complete her honours thesis, focusing her research on the gentrification of restaurants in the Gastown area of Vancouver.
During her degree, she has completed four co-op work terms, interned at the CBC, hosted a show on Vancouver Co-op Radio, written for The Peak, participated in the Civic Innovation Change Lab, presented at two undergraduate conferences, served as a peer mentor, and received the Communication Alumni Award and an FCAT Undergraduate Research Fellowship.
Rachel’s research has always been community-focused, and the project that she completed for her research fellowship examined the history of Stanley Park and the erasure of Indigenous identity and history as it relates to that land. The project came out of her work in CMNS 433 – Issues in Communication and Cultural Policy. “We learned about how parks are created and their malicious underbelly,” says Wong.
Her research became “Voices in the Park: Decolonizing the History of Stanley Park,” a 20-page paper comprising interviews with Vancouver Park Board staff and a content analysis of archival documents, social media, blog posts, and media coverage of the park. Shepresented her findings at the 2019 FCAT Undergraduate Conference.
Wong’s research was particularly timely. In July 2018, the Park Board formally acknowledged their colonial role and planned a “colonial audit” of their actions relating to Stanley Park and other areas around the city that were formerly home to First Nations peoples. “We need further education so we can be more respectful and aware of the history of these places,” says Wong.
Wong will graduate with a BA in communication and a minor in international studies in June 2020, and, until then, she is looking forward to continuing her community-focused work at the Vancity Office of Community Engagement. One thing she knows for sure is that she wants to continue working in the non-profit sector and staying engaged in her community.
“My time at SFU has been really rewarding,” says Wong. “The most memorable thing has been going through park board minutes and realizing — oh my gosh, I’m researching! I never thought I’d do that.”