GSWS Alumnus Megan Bobetsis Advocates for Safety and Equity for Women

October 04, 2022

With her passion for learning guiding her way, Megan Bobetsis eagerly made the return to campus with many other students in the fall of 2021, as in-person learning made its much-anticipated return at Simon Fraser University (SFU). One year later, Megan will be graduating with her master of arts (MA) in Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies (GSWS) from SFU this October. Reflecting on her experience, Megan believes that what she learned as a GSWS graduate student has not only prepared her for a meaningful career, it has also empowered her to see society – and herself – differently. “I enrolled with GSWS to do something that fosters who I am as a person and expand my world view,” says Megan. “GSWS is powerful because it has impacted how I show up in all aspects of life, not just school.”

This is Megan’s second time graduating from SFU. Megan previously completed her bachelor of arts (BA) at the university, where she explored her growing interest in feminism as a minor in GSWS. After earning her BA, Megan applied the skillset she developed as a GSWS minor by working at the Centre for Gender and Sexual Health Equity (CGSHE), an academic research centre affiliated with SFU. “My work as a project coordinator in a research setting provided me with a deeper appreciation for the gender equity work I was exposed to in the classroom,” explains Megan. “I had put the idea on the backburner for a while, but working with graduate students through my job inspired me to follow a similar path. I was also at the point in my life of being emotionally ready to return to school and focus on my interest in researching sexual assault and intimate partner violence.”

After experiencing both personal and professional growth, Megan embraced the chance to return to school and delve deeper into analyzing the issues she was passionate about as a graduate student. “I was ready for a more self-directed learning experience,” explains Megan. As a GSWS master’s student, Megan worked with her professors, peers, on-campus organizations, and non-profits to create projects where she could advocate for safety and support for survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence. “Our courses took us through the entire research process, from the literature review to the proposal to the project itself,” explains Megan. “One of my professors, Dr. Tiffany Muller Myrdahl, really changed my approach to research and my understanding of knowledge creation. Her class equipped us with a powerful ‘toolkit’ as feminist researchers.”

Outside of the classroom, Megan also was able to speak out and get involved in the causes that mattered to her, both on campus and in the community. One of Megan’s projects aimed at helping survivors of sexual violence was inspired by her experience volunteering on the committee for Sexual Assault Awareness Month at SFU. “I created Cultivating a Community of Care: Healing & Justice for Sexual Violence Survivors by working closely with SFU’s Sexual Violence Support & Prevention Office,” explains Megan. “I launched the project for Sexual Assault Awareness Month in January 2022 as an online space to share the voices of survivors, as well as show support from community members.”

Megan also found mentorship from GSWS professors – like 2022 YWCA Women of Distinction Award winner Dr. Jen Marchbank – who were involved in the community and able to help students make connections with organizations making a difference. “Dr. Jen Marchbank was one of my professors, and her course on gender, violence and resistance was exactly what I was interested in,” explains Megan. “Jen is involved in an organization called the Network to Eliminate Violence in Relationships (NEVR). She knew about my research interest, and she connected me with the amazing opportunity to present my paper, titled ‘An Evaluation of the B.C. Violence Against Women in Relationships (VAWIR) Policy,’ at one of NEVR’s board meetings. It has always been important for me to take my academic work and share it with the community, so this was very meaningful for me.”

After a busy year working towards her academic goals, Megan is taking the time to celebrate and reflect on her achievements. Megan cares deeply about advocating for safer communities, and she hopes to bring this with her as she starts her next chapter as a Project Coordinator at BC Children’s and Women’s Hospital. “GSWS is unique because it is applicable to all aspects of academia and society. It is fundamental learning for our future,” explains Megan. “We can take what we’ve learned and apply it to make our workspaces and communities more inclusive and equitable. That is what makes GSWS so important.”