" SFU was my first choice for my Master's degree as the faculty are brilliant, interdisciplinary researchers with a wealth of experience. I also completed my undergraduate degree at SFU, meaning I was familiar with the faculty and the university."

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Aayush Sharma

January 05, 2024

master's student in the Faculty of Health Sciences

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

I am inspired to work in the field of health sciences as I want to work with the people in my community to improve health and health equity.

Why did you choose to come to SFU?

SFU was my first choice for my Master's degree as the faculty are brilliant, interdisciplinary researchers with a wealth of experience. I also completed my undergraduate degree at SFU, meaning I was familiar with the faculty and the university.

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

The first part of my research measured and mapped residents' access to amenities (by walking or cycling) they use daily in Surrey, BC. We also held workshops with community members to hear their thoughts on our maps or factors that make it easier or harder to access amenities by walking or cycling.

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

Public Health, Socio­-spatial mapping, Community engagement

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

My RAship with the CHATR lab and Dr. Meghan Winters has connected me with experts from whom I can seek guidance. The lab's research was similar to mine, which allowed me to learn different aspects of my research topic. My TAships with Dr. Rochelle Tucker allowed me to practice my presenting and marking skills. I have also been a GIS Peer with the SFU Research Commons, where I have improved my GIS, problem-solving, and teaching skills.

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

I was successfully awarded the SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship- Master’s Program for my thesis project. I was also a recipient of the Community Engaged Research Initiative (CERi) Graduate Fellowship. This award and my experience working with the other fellows were valuable in shaping my approach toward the community workshops in my research. My experience with CERi ensured that I could better understand and describe the experiences of Surrey residents.

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

During my graduate student journey, the most valuable lessons have been concerning time management. Being a graduate student involves juggling several roles (RAship, TAship, and your own research) while ensuring you preserve adequate time for each. Thus, scheduling time for each role is vital.

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

I am still new to networking and am working on improving my skills. From my limited experience, putting yourself out there by attending and socializing at conferences or other academic settings is always the hardest but the most crucial step.

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

I think having hobbies that allow you to destress at the end of the day is essential. Spending time with my girlfriend and family, watching or playing soccer, and playing video games allow me to relax.

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

I would like to dedicate my research to my grandparents. When I was younger, I used to live with my grandparents. During this time, we walked everywhere, whether to the park, the grocery store, or the doctor. I looked forward to these walks as they were the highlight of my day, and I would like to think that my grandparents also felt this way as it kept them active. However, I know walking everywhere is not a possibility for everyone. Studying the built environment and how it impacts health has shown me that many factors affect people's ability to walk to essential services, including safety or health. However, many people simply cannot walk to these services because they are too far away, which is why this research is so important and personal to me!


Contact Aayush:aayushs@sfu.ca

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