"Having been an undergrad student and former employee at SFU for many years, I decided to augment my full-time work at the City of Vancouver by pursuing the Masters of GLS."

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Student Profile: Ellen Vaillancourt

March 02, 2022
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Graduate Liberal Studies master's student in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Persistence is my middle name … not really but when faced with a challenge, I’m like a dog with a bone. I also have an insatiable curiosity about what’s around the next corner, for what’s possible, and I’m about as idealistic, optimistic and adventurous as they come. I’m deeply spiritual, known to be wildly creative and also for being wild and free. Come join me.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?

Having been an undergrad student and former employee at SFU for many years, I decided to augment my full-time work at the City of Vancouver by pursuing the Masters of GLS. I missed the buzz of the academic environment, the constant flow of activity and ideas, but more importantly, it seemed that this pursuit would involve the active, experiential, and relational participation of the whole person in understanding people and the world we share.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR RESEARCH OR YOUR PROGRAM TO A FAMILY MEMBER?

Q: Why a Masters at this point in life??!!

A: This MA has been a most enlivening journey! I stretch my knowledge by reading classic and contemporary texts, I find and refine my writing voice, I engage in critical conversations about some of the most pressing issues of our time, I laugh, I struggle, I grow in ways previously unimagined, and I act from a place of greater awareness, understanding, compassion and grace.

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

Aside from the faculty, staff and my incredibly diverse student co-hort, I’m enjoying the breadth of material that I’m able to study within the interdisciplinary framework of the program. I also appreciate the program’s flexibility, the immersive experience, engaging in lively discussion, debate and critique, exponentially increasing my capacity to read and write – with confidence, the opportunity to publish, and the opportunity to collaborate on a meaningful project. The program opens doors and as happy as I am to be here now, I’m excited to discover what’s next

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PROGRAM/POSTDOC POSITION TO SOMEONE STILL SEARCHING FOR A PROGRAM OR POSTDOC POSITION?

The foundational courses lay the groundwork on which to design a highly customizable and flexible program to your own unique specifications within the Arts and Social Sciences.

I highly recommend having a conversation with any current or former Grad students, reaching out to the faculty, and jumping into a student orientation session which are offered several times a year!

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE?

Quite by accident, or rather by serendipity, in summer 2020, I missed the fall registration date and the course that I wanted was already full and heavily wait-listed.

My options were to either, a) select another course, b) take a leave of absence for the term or, c) take advantage of the Western Deans Agreement and enroll in a course at another university under the agreement.

After an intense search, a course turned up that made my soul sing but it was at Harvard University – a far stretch from the Western Dean’s Agreement – however, thanks to COVID-19 the course was offered online and so my hopes were entertained. A second course of interest within the agreement was at University of Victoria.

In fall 2020, I enrolled for the course at UVic, and after having discussed the Harvard course with the Chair of GLS and with his approval, I submitted an application for Harvard Divinity School that turned out to be a much larger undertaking then initially anticipated.

Cut to March 8, 2021, I accepted an offer for a placement from Harvard Divinity School as an International student with special status for a one-year period, commencing fall 2022! You just never know what’s around the next corner.

 

Contact : edvailla@sfu.ca

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