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A diverse undergraduate experience leads to Dean's Convocation Medal for BSc student
By: Geron Malbas
Sumara Stroshein, who graduates with a Bachelor of Science degree in the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) this month, has been awarded the 2020 Dean's Convocation Medal. The annual award recognizes graduating students that have accomplished outstanding academic achievements.
Stroshein was able to pursue a diverse set of experiences through the Co-operative Education Program, directed studies courses, two Undergraduate Student Research Awards, and an honours thesis. Passionate about environmental and community health, Stroshein also sought out numerous opportunities to volunteer in the SFU community and beyond. This included being a part of Embark Sustainability, the Red Cross Student Movement, and the Fraser Health Crisis Line.
“The skills and knowledge that I have developed as a volunteer with these organizations have translated into a more comprehensive understanding of the ‘whole picture’ of health and a stronger set of teamwork, leadership, and community engagement skills,” she explains.
Working as a Clinical Research Assistant in a respiratory clinic for a Co-op, she had the opportunity to develop skills in clinical research and project management. The hands-on, patient oriented nature of the role, along with the highly collaborative nature of the team, provided a learning environment that motivated her to continue pursuing research. With funding from an Undergraduate Student Research Award, she had the opportunity to do another Co-op work term with the BC Cancer Agency on a project related to familial lymphoid cancer.
“Each of the research projects and initiatives I was involved in taught me something unique,” she explains. “I am very glad that I took the time to explore different opportunities in different fields.”
With her approachable and friendly personality, Stroshein has made constant efforts to create a culture of openness, diversity, and community participation at SFU. As the Food Systems Change Coordinator for Embark Sustainability for the past two years, she supported teams of volunteers working on food system projects like the Learning Garden and the Food Rescue programs, and also hosted Community Kitchen events with the SFU Women’s Centre. She also created a series of dialogue-based “community cohorts” to educate students on challenges present in our food system and empower student leadership on sustainability related issues.
“This experience has allowed me to blend my interests in health and sustainability into an action-oriented role and has introduced me to the concepts of systems thinking and impact gap mapping for developing solutions within complex systems,” says Stroshein.
Also volunteering with the Red Cross Student Movement, she worked to engage students by organizing conferences and workshops on local and global humanitarian issues, providing resources and training on how to take action in local schools and communities to build a culture of support. Last summer, Stroshein had the opportunity to be an SFU student delegate for the University Social Responsibility Network and participated in a program at Sichuan University focused on health promotion for rural children and families.
After graduating from FHS, Stroshein is looking forward to continuing her education in the UBC Northern Medical Program this fall and ultimately plans to pursue training in medicine, epidemiology, and planetary health to actively tackle public health challenges at both an individual and population level.
“I hope to combine my interests in medicine and research to contribute both short-term action and long-term strategies for a more equitable society. The years that I have spent at SFU have been wonderful and I am so thankful for all the opportunities, support, and kindness that I have benefited from as a student here.”