Samaah Jaffer

BA 2018

Ph.D. Student in Religious Studies, Yale University


Samaah Jaffer completed her undergraduate studies at SFU in 2018, with a joint major in International Studies and World Literature, and a minor in Middle Eastern and Islamic History. While completing her BA, she worked at SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement, The Peak, The Lyre Magazine, and was the B.C. editor at She also organized and presented at the 2017 Middle East and Islamic Consortium of BC student conference, where she received the Andrew Rippin top-essay award. As a recipient of the International Studies travel award in 2018, Samaah spent a semester studying Arabic in Cairo, Egypt. She returned to Cairo in 2019 to participate in the Summer Institute for Islamic Studies at the American University in Cairo.  

Samaah’s time at SIS was formative in shaping her thinking on Islam through a global lens. Discussion of Islamic history, law, and politics in IS seminars formed much of the foundation and inspiration for her graduate research.

In 2020, Samaah graduated from the MA/MSc program in International and World History at Columbia and the London School of Economics. She completed additional graduate coursework at the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at NYU in 2020-2021.

Samaah is currently a PhD student in the Department of Religious Studies at Yale University, where her research is interested in the history of Islam, Muslims, and modernity; race and racialization; and Muslim imaginations of justice and temporality.

Claire Sieffert

BA (Hon) 2016

Ph.D. Student in Sociology
New York University


Claire finished her honours degree in International Studies at SFU in 2016. During her time in the program, she learnt from a number of different experiences, including working as a junior policy analyst at Global Affairs Canada, participating in the Educational Network for Human Rights in Palestine/Israel’s (FFIPP) summer internship programme, and completing an honours essay on socialism’s contested meanings in Cuba.

After graduating, Claire joined Canada’s Parliamentary Internship Programme, where she worked for two Members of Parliament and researched how Senators understand their relationship to the public. In 2017-2018, she completed her MA in Sociology at the University of Toronto. She then worked at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy’s Global Justice Lab from 2018 to 2019. At the Global Justice Lab, her work examined topics like police oversight and the criminal justice system’s response to sexual assault in different countries. In 2019, Claire began her PhD in Sociology at New York University. With an interest in culture, organizations, and morality, she is particularly focused on how these dynamics unfold in accountability systems.

Throughout these experiences, Claire has drawn on the tools and questions that she developed at SFU’s School for International Studies, which she describes as a programme that truly fosters curiosity. Claire says she is immensely grateful to the staff, professors, and fellow students at the School; their encouragement to ask questions and read widely led her to pursue her current research direction.