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Student Profile: Marybelle Issa

French Sociolinguistics master's student in the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences

September 13, 2021
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I graduated from the French Cohort Program (FCP) at SFU with a bachelor degree in political science (major) and in French (extended minor) with a specialization in French linguistics. I am currently in the final semester of my masters program within the French Department at SFU and I hold a 4.1 GPA. I am currently writing my thesis on the multimodal practices of contemporary political activism online, focusing primarily on the case of Lebanese activists. Under the supervision of Dr. Cécile Vigouroux, I am interested in exploring the new forms of protest and political engagement made possible through the affordances of social media, and the sociolinguistic implications of these technologically imposed modes of interaction.

As graduate student representative for the French department, I attend all department meetings and advocate on behalf of the graduate students. I work closely with the French department’s administration team to promote the graduate studies program and the different funding opportunities available to students pursuing a graduate degree in French. I am also a teaching assistant for a beginner’s French course at SFU (FREN 120).

I hold a position as translator for SFU’s philosophy department where I work closely with the New Narratives project to translate their documents from English to French. I am also a member of the FASS in the Class program, which is an initiative organized by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) where university students present their research to high school classes.

In addition to my involvement in various organizations and departments at SFU, I provide private tutoring sessions for beginners learning French. Finally, I work as the Executive Assistant and Project Coordinator at the Canadian Political Science Association (CPSA-ACSP) where I am currently leading the coordination of the 2022 Prizes and aiding the administration team in organizing the 2022 annual conference.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?

As members of the Lebanese community in Vancouver, my family spent a lot of time at SFU organizing events, holding board meetings, and being part of the unveiling of the Khalil Gibran monument. When I was applying to post-secondary programs in 2015, I knew that SFU was my first choice for many reasons.

First, the French department at SFU offers a multidisciplinary program unique to Canada which is designed to provide students with a bilingual education. Having followed a French education since kindergarten, I was particularly interested in pursuing a bilingual program.

Second, the French department at SFU offers financial support and other incentives to continue studying in French.

Finally, SFU was the most practical choice for me since I could pursue my academic career all while living close to home. Since making the decision to come to SFU for my bachelor’s degree, I have been given many opportunities to develop personally and professionally, and this support has motivated me to stay at SFU to pursue a Master’s degree.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR RESEARCH AND/OR PROGRAM.

The French department’s graduate studies program provides interdisciplinary freedom allowing me to explore different research topics from various departments. Additionally, through the Western Dean’s Agreement, I am able to take courses outside my program with partner universities.

My research pertains to the analysis of multimodal forms of political activism online with a particular focus on the case of Lebanese activists. Lebanon is an interesting case study due to its linguistic diversity (common use of code switching between English, French, and Arabic) exemplified within its complex sectarian relations, its unique ties to its colonial history, and to the people’s multimodal approach to protest. In today’s digital age, where new forms of communication transcend the limits of geographical borders and promote international economic, political, and social interactions, daily communicative exchanges and approaches to political protest now involved new discursive and behavioral norms, both online and offline. I am interested in rethinking notions of public space, activism, and online identification processes through the evaluation of different levels of contemporary political engagement on Instagram.

WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?

I enjoy being immersed in an intellectually stimulating environment, working alongside professors and peers who are constantly challenging me and supporting me through trial and error.

HAVE YOU BEEN THE RECIPIENT OF ANY MAJOR OR DONOR FUNDED AWARDS?

2022 $7000 Graduate Fellowship, SFU

2021 $2100 Dr. Tai Whan Kim Memorial Graduate Scholarship, Donor

2021 $2300 Dr. Marguerite Fauquenoy Graduate Scholarship, Donor

2021 $2000 Travel & Minor Research Award (TMRA), SFU

2020 $3500 Graduate Fellowship, SFU

2020 $15 000 BC Graduate Scholarship, SFU

2020 GPA: 4.1 President’s Honour Roll, Spring semester 2019, SFU

2019 CGPA: 3.61 BA Dean’s Honour Roll, for four consecutive years, SFU

2019 - Prize of Excellence, Département de français, SFU

I am privileged to have been the recipient of these generous accolades since it has allowed me to focus on my academics without having to worry about funding my tuition and research. I am grateful for the continuous support and recognition, and I hope to use these opportunities to further my professional development and to help others in achieving their academic goals.

DESCRIBE YOUR PROGRAM FOR THOSE SEARCHING.

It’s important to find a program that provides you with flexibility and interdisciplinary freedom. My program allows students to collaborate with different departments in order to accumulate a diverse range of knowledge in preparation for your specific research goals. If you have yet to find a specific research topic or program, I would recommend exploring the work of different authors and professors who specialize in the areas of study that spark your interest. I would also recommend keeping an open mind and allowing the process of self discovery to guide you on your journey in academics.

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE?

I am very interested in connecting with individuals with similar academic interests. If anyone would like to discuss or if you have any other questions, I am active on LinkedIn and I can also be reached via email.

Contact Marybelle: marybelle_issa@sfu.ca
LinkedIn: https://ca.linkedin.com/in/marybelle-issa-229335186