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Student Profile: Soraya Janus
Criminology doctoral student in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
I am a PhD student and researcher at SFU in the School of Criminology, working in the Centre of Forensic Research. I completed a Bachelor's Degree (2014) and a Master's Degree (2018), specializing in victimology. My research interests include: wrongful convictions/miscarriages of justice, vulnerable populations, false confessions/false guilty pleas. My PhD primarily focuses on Canada's judicial system - laws, policies, and procedures. I work alongside SFU's Dr. Gail Anderson and Dr. Tamara Levy from UBC's Allard School of Law.
I have presented my research both nationally and internationally. I strongly believe in volunteerism and giving back to the community. I volunteered with the Delta Police Department, Victim Services program as a caseworker for seven years - completing over 1530 volunteer hours, assisting victims of crime and trauma. Since 2013, I have worked full-time with the Delta Police Department as a civilian employee working in the Information and Security Branch - where I have also had the opportunity to work as an acting-supervisor. Currently, I volunteer my time sitting on various boards: B.C. Cancer Agency, Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) and a member of the Vancouver Association of Restorative Justice (VARG).
It is my hope to utilize my skills as a researcher, alongside my work and volunteerism to use my platform as an advocate to make meaningful change. My goal for my PhD is to give voice to those who have felt unheard and to help fight for transformative change(s) within our justice system.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?
Coming to SFU was a dream of mine. I remember learning about their criminology program and knew this was the place I wanted to attend - the incredible fortress on the mountain! Completing my Bachelors and Masters Degrees at SFU, it was only fitting to continue my last chapter here at SFU!
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR RESEARCH OR YOUR PROGRAM TO A FAMILY MEMBER?
My family are incredibly supportive and interested in my research. Often times they are the ones coming across articles and sending me links to look into!
My work focuses on advocacy, learning about why people confess and/or plead guilty to crimes that they did not commit - despite being factually innocent. There are so many documentaries and limited series available through Netflix that highlight specific cases of wrongful convictions. The shows will make you question how something like this can happen...exposing the injustices inflicted on both victims and the accused.
WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?
I enjoy the opportunities, mentorship, and student camaraderie.
I have the most amazing student working group - we hold each other accountable but also have daily check-ins. We all offer so many different strengths and have a variety of research interests - it's nice to work together and collaborate on projects. We cheer each other on!
In the Fall 2021 semester, I was privileged to join an undergraduate class. A small group of us worked together on a project sharing our passions about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and educating our fellow students on Canada's Truth and Reconciliations (TRC) 94 calls to action. We continue to work together through learning and unlearning, sharing our journey with SFU and other communities.
At SFU the opportunities are endless - my student career continues to evolve and inspire me!
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.
Graduate Fellowships (2021 x2, 2020, 2019, + 2017)
External Graduate Awards (2019, 2018, 2016, + 2015)
Dr. Brian Burtch Graduate Award in Criminology (2016)
Travel and Research Awards (2020 + 2016)
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