Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies

No such thing as wasted time: words from GSWS student Kelsey Strom

March 16, 2021

“Don’t feel like you wasted time or energy. Almost any experience has transferrable skills and development opportunities.” 

Kelsey Strom is a wise first-year student in GSWS who has previously completed another Bachelor’s degree in marine biology and international development.

As a relatively new student to SFU, Strom  dove into opportunities as soon as she enrolled. She completed the Semester in Dialogue program in Fall 2020. This full-time program “encourages civic responsibility and pushes us as students to improve our society,” she  says. Students used Vancouver Plan’s 2050 provisional goals to connect with youth in the city. Guest speakers attended their classes to discuss professional interest and encourage networking. Strom worked on a project called “My City My Park” to amplify youth voices in the City to hear what they appreciate about and need in their local parks. Strom feels that “parks and green spaces are more important than ever for mental health and wellbeing,” and worked to engage young people with the green space in their city. 

Aside from the Semester in Dialogue, Strom also found a comfortable place in GSWS. The diverse faculty  bring a wide variety of lived experiences to their teaching and Strom says she’s been excited to learn from new instructors and peers who can offer such a range of knowledge. Strom also notes that her experience and knowledge from her first Bachelor’s degree is valued in her experiences, despite coming from quite a different subject area, have helped her in GSWS.

As someone with a personal connection to chronic illness, Strom says  that GSWS 210, Gender Today: Race, Gendered Bodies, and Health was a class that spoke to her lived experiences. Making  space for relating personal stories to students’ coursework, Strom says  her instructor, Dr. Walcott-Francis, and the TA were both extremely knowledgeable. 

As an active volunteer in the community at-large, Strom started  a position with the Elizabeth Fry Society before the pandemic began. Having  experience working with women’s groups along as well as  non-binary and gender non-conforming folks, Strom’s skill set fits well with the Elizabeth Fry Society’s mission. In addition, she has been a longtime volunteer with the Canada and United States Special Olympics.

Strom is also an active crafter. After building her own loom, she taught herself to weave. Not only that, but she has also picked up baking and even started an Instagram account and small business selling her baked goods.

Recently,  Strom  started  working as a research and project assistant with the Network to Eliminate Violence in Relationships (NEVR). It’s a program run through Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Having previous research lab experience, she is currently working on a large literature review for the lab. NEVR works to educate the general public, advocate for public policy changes, and offer resources that support those who experience any kind of relationship violence. Strom will continue with NEVR and hopes to work in supporting people who have experienced domestic violence.

Strom’s current Semester in Dialogue project is online-based to manage safety during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Youth can contribute to the project on Instagram. If you would like to participate in the project, go to @MyCityMyPark and post a comment on what you want to see, or take a photo of your neighborhood park and use #MyCityMyPark to share your ideas with Kelsey and her team.