Department of Global Humanities

Inaugural Dutton Essay Award winner reflects on her Global Humanities education

April 15, 2024

Sara Wong is completing her undergraduate degree in Global Humanities this spring. She won the inaugural Dutton Essay Award in 2023 and served as the chair of the HUMSU (Humanities Student Union). With her future looking bright, Sara discusses with us why she chose Global Humanities.

The Dutton Essay Award, valued at a minimum of $1,100 each, is awarded to undergraduate students who have written an exemplary essay in any Global Humanities course at SFU in the previous three terms.
Deadline for the award closes on April 30, 2024.

What inspired you to pursue Humanities at SFU, and how has your experience been?

I loved my English and social studies classes in high school, so I saw Global Humanities as a good blend of the two. The multidisciplinary approach was extremely valuable to me, and it’s something I always point out when explaining the program to others. I’ve taken courses ranging in focus from art history to mass migration.

Though one of my absolute favourites was a course on contemporary Canadian politics with former MP and J.S. Woodsworth Resident Scholar, Svend Robinson.

Global Humanities gave me a breadth of knowledge, while also honing in on important life skills like communication, critical thinking, and active listening.

Congratulations on receiving the Inaugural Dutton Essay Award last year, can you tell us about your initial thoughts when you first applied and when you found out you won?

Thank you! I’m grateful to have received so much encouragement and other forms of support from the Global Humanities department during my time at SFU. And that extends to all students, not just those in the major program.

Not all academic awards are accessible, so I liked that the Inaugural Dutton Essay Award was open to undergraduates from any Global Humanities course in the past year.

Dr. Alessandra Capperdoni was the one who prompted me to apply for the inaugural Dutton Essay Award, using a paper I’d written in one of her classes. I got a pretty high mark on that paper, so I was confident with what I submitted. But there are a lot of fantastic writers out there. I just crossed my fingers and hoped for the best, and it worked out well in this case.

Tell us about your experience being the Chair of HUMSU (Humanities Student Union) and how the role impacted your student experience.

Going into SFU, I noticed there was no student group for Humanities like there were for a lot of the other FASS departments. I didn’t plan on starting HUMSU in my first year, but my friends gave me the push I needed.

We were all at the beginning of our SFU journeys, so working together to form a student union helped us better navigate campus life and bond more! Being a part of HUMSU from day one shaped my student experience for the better.

Having a dedicated place to study, plan events, or simply hangout was great. Again, the department was really supportive and that openness to connect and collaborate is something I’ll always appreciate.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of your experience as a student? Looking ahead, what are your plans after graduation?

I think a lot of what I said above applies here. If I had to pick just one thing though, it would be proving my versatility as a writer. Mostly for my own validation, but it’s useful to have a variety of samples for my portfolio too.

I was an editor with SFU’s student newspaper, The Peak, in my second and third years. That experience was incredibly meaningful to me because I’m pursuing jobs in publishing (among other arts and culture sectors) and I met so many amazing people along the way.

Stepping back to focus on completing my studies was bittersweet, but it led me to getting work published in the Student Learning Commons’ undergraduate journal and winning the Dutton Essay Award! Now that I’m about to graduate, the priority is finding full-time work. I’m hoping to travel more as well.

Any additional thoughts you would like to share with us?

The Dutton Essay Award inspired me and everyone else involved in HUMSU last year to expand on opportunities to reward student work. We began the “Witness to Humanity” contest with several categories: academic essays, creative writing, and visual art.

The winners’ pieces were published both in print and online. That was like a legacy project for me and I’m proud of how it turned out. HUMSU is running the contest again this year, so stay tuned for more information on the second edition.

Read Sara Wong's award winning essay titled "Exploring the Effects of Hong Kong’s Colonization Through Food" in the link below

Read here

the dutton essay award

Valued at a minimum of $1,100 each, awarded annually to undergraduate students. Applications must be submitted to ( by April 30.

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The Humanities Student Union 

HUMSU was established in 1995. Participation in the HUMSU connects students to a group of people with common interests, dedicated to making the most of their university experience.

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