Graduate students

PhD student Reema Faris on the continuous pursuit of learning

March 16, 2021

Reema Faris has a deep passion for learning. As a naturally curious and inquisitive person, she says returning to post secondary studies in recent years has been a joy. Faris spent many years of her early career as a communications and marketing professional within a range of public and private sector organizations. Faris brings new perspectives, kindness, and enthusiasm for teaching and learning to the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, where she is pursuing doctoral studies.

After completing her MA in Graduate Liberal Studies (GLS) at SFU in 2015, a friend strongly encouraged Faris to look into the GSWS Department for her PhD. Despite initial reservations about the commitment of a doctorate, she has persevered and now manages her academic study with all the other parts of her busy life. Prior to her MA in GLS, Faris also completed a Bachelor of Arts in History and Classical Studies at University of British Columbia and Master of Business Administration at University of Toronto.Coming to GSWS with a background in Graduate Liberal Studies, Reema says that if “you are someone with a passion for learning, a yearning to deepen your understanding, and the desire to make change — personally, professionally, and on behalf of others — then GSWS offers you a skill set that will help you realize these goals.” 

Her current research focuses on how reading helps us define ourselves and how it helps shape our contributions to make the world a better place. Her supervisor, Dr. Özlem Sensoy, is a Professor with the Faculty of Education and is also an Associate Faculty member of GSWS. With her research still in its early stages, Faris is currently focusing on preparing for her third Comprehensive Exam, required of all PhD students, taking notes, and working on her thesis draft. 

It was not a desire to pursue research that encouraged Faris to continue her journey in academia. Having previously worked as an educator and advocate for education, she says she loved working as a Teaching Assistant during her MA and found it an engaging place to continue that passion for higher learning. In the Fall 2020 semester, she was a TA for GSWS 100: Sex Talk, with Dr. Helen Leung.

Among her other achievements, Faris was a speaker at a TEDx talk in Vancouver in 2017. She was also the recipient of a FASS Graduate Dean Entrance Scholarship, a Provost Prize of Distinction, and two Graduate Fellowships from the Dean of Graduate Studies at SFU. These awards not only recognized her achievements but  allowed Faris  to become a full-time PhD student, and for that she is thankful.

Faris also spends her time volunteering and giving back to her community. She is the online facilitator of “Thinking Matters,” conversations for the Lynn Valley branch of the North Vancouver District Public Library, a dialogue event held every two weeks over Zoom.  Faris is also  a moderator for SFU Philosopher’s Cafe, and she has served as a trustee on the West Vancouver Board of Education, a board member for the Vancouver Opera, and now works on the GSWS Graduate Caucus. As a mother raising a teenager, Reema cares about creating community spaces and making the world a better place for the next generations.

“Graduate studies with GSWS offers a perspective on the world that is open, flexible, fair, just, and critically engaging.”