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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 received my Bachelor’s degree from SFU as part of the French Cohort Program studying political science, history and French, with a specialization in French linguistics. Today, I am a Masters student studying the multimodal practices of online political activism, focusing primarily on the case of Lebanon.  I am also the Graduate Student Representative for the French department as well as a speaker for SFU's FASS in the Class program where we present out research to high school students around the lower mainland.  I work for the Canadian Political Science Association (CPSA-ACSP) and I am also a private French tutor.
Outside of academics, I am a music aficionado. Having practiced piano within The Royal Conservatory of Music, I enjoy a wide range of music genres and I am currently exploring literature on the effects of music therapy on language and other aspects of social life. I enjoy film and gardening in my free time.

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 improve myself personally and professionally, and this support has motivated me to stay at SFU to pursue a Masters degree.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR RESEARCH AND/OR PROGRAM.

The French department’s Masters 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.
As a synopsis of my current research project, I explore the multimodal practices of contemporary political activism online, focusing primarily on the case of Lebanon. I am interested in understanding the extent to which the affordances of communication technology and the Internet have contributed to forging new ways of interacting and engaging politically. Moreover, I want to examine the prominence of code-switching in multimodal forms of Lebanese protest and the complex political and sectarian tensions which contribute to the ways in which activism is exercised.

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

I enjoy being immersed in an intellectually stimulating environment which has promoted my personal and professional development. I also appreciate 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?

In September 2020, I was awarded the BC Graduate Scholarship on behalf of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. I have also been awarded a 0.5 Graduate Fellowship for the Spring 2021 by the Graduate Studies Committee. In the Summer of 2021, I was awarded a Travel and Minor Research Award, and in the Fall of 2021 I will be receiving the Dr. Marguerite Fauquenoy Graduate Scholarship in French. Finally, I was chosen by the French Department in 2019 to receive the Prize of Excellence for outstanding academic accomplishments in French.
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 improve 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