"The Community-Engaged Research Initiative at SFU was very compelling, and I found the Faculty of Education, including my future supervisor, to be welcoming of alternative research approaches."

Meet More Students in Education


Curate your digital footprint

Want to be featured on our website? Complete our online submission form.

Submit your profile

Shaghayegh Bahrami

June 03, 2024

Educational Theory and Practice doctoral student in the Faculty of Education

Tell us a little about yourself, including what inspires you to learn and continue in your chosen field

I'm in the second year of my PhD at SFU Faculty of Education. My current research focuses on language reclamation and how the collective storytelling of bilingual teachers can shift ideological discourses around minoritized languages within their communities. I completed my Master’s in Education at Harvard and received my B.A. in Urban Planning from the University of Tehran. Since 2010, I've been a teacher and teacher educator, working in both schools and community settings. I chose to become an educator because it allows me to connect with people to create alternative ways of living and being in this world. Language reclamation found its way to my work more recently. I'm continuously inspired by the daily resistance of those who speak minoritized languages in Iran. Witnessing their love for their languages and identities, despite the marginalization they face for being bilingual, makes me continue.

Why did you choose to come to SFU?

I am committed to centring the community's needs and benefits in my work sometimes beyond what is common in traditional academic research. I was also in Vancouver before the program and didn’t want to move. When it was time to decide, the Community-Engaged Research Initiative at SFU was very compelling, and I found the Faculty of Education, including my future supervisor, to be welcoming of alternative research approaches.

How would you describe your research or your program to a family member?

I work with teachers who speak certain minoritized languages to help them craft stories of their relationship with the languages and places that are part of their lives. I will support them in telling those stories to their fellow teachers and other community members. We already know from past research in other contexts that there are personal benefits to such storytelling practices. In my research, I'm interested in seeing how this collective storytelling impacts their teaching practice and their approach to language-related situations with students. It's important for me to involve the participating teachers in the research process as much as possible, and to generate outputs that are beneficial for the community.

What three (3) keywords would you use to describe your research?

Language reclamation, lives of teachers, community-engaged research.

How have your courses, RA-ships, TA-ships, or non-academic school experiences contributed to your academic and/or professional development?

It took me a full year to secure RA- and TA-ships at SFU, but they are now a significant part of my student life. I am an RA at Transforming Inquiry into Learning and Teaching (TILT), which connects me with a diverse range of SFU faculty members from various fields of study. I'm also working as an RA on my supervisor's research project, gaining valuable experience in co-authoring. Both of these positions provide access to the broader academic community through conferences and future publication opportunities. My TA-ships so far have given me enough autonomy to further develop my pedagogy, which is crucial for some of the paths I hope to pursue next.

Have you been the recipient of any major or donor-funded awards? If so, please tell us which ones and a little about how the awards have impacted your studies and/or research

When starting the program, I was offered a two-year entrance package, and this year I won a Vanier Award. These funding sources, particularly the Vanier, have provided essential financial security, allowing me to focus more on my graduate experience.

What have been the most valuable lessons you've learned along your graduate student journey (or in becoming a graduate student)?

Many people pursue a graduate degree after their adult lives have already taken shape to some extent. This means one’s doctoral studies, although very important, are not necessarily the main aspect of their life. Life continues to happen alongside the degree, and I have learned to be responsive to what life calls for, rather than centering everything around my identity as a student.

How do you approach networking and building connections in and outside of your academic community?

I enjoy working with other people and this is mainly how I build connections. I serve as one of the graduate student representatives for the Canadian Association for Social Justice Education (CASJE) and Language and Literacies Researchers of Canada (LLRC), which allows me to work on mutual projects with many wonderful people. I'm also the editor-in-chief for SFU Educational Review, another great opportunity to collaborate with individuals in my school community. However, my main academic community consists of the friends I made during my courses. We regularly get together and support each other in both academic and non-academic matters.

What are some tips for balancing your academic and personal life?

As a student away from home, I don't always have the luxury of maintaining a balance between academic and personal life.

If you could dedicate your research to anyone (past, present and/or future), who would that be and why?

I would dedicate it to my parents; to my dad who left his land and language behind to give us more opportunities, and to my mom who loved studying and planned to go to university but life had other plans for her. They both worked very hard so I could do what I enjoy doing.


Contact Shaghayegh:shaghayegh_bahrami@sfu.ca

Additional Links