FASS News, Students

Psychology student Shina Kaur creates social impact through student engagement

March 06, 2020

Shina Kaur didn’t come to Simon Fraser University (SFU) to find herself; she came to create herself. Rather than commuting to classes, she chose to move onto campus in her second term and accepted a position as a community advisor in SFU Residence.

“Living on campus opened my mind and my eyes to the possibilities SFU offers,” Kaur says. “My academic, professional and social life are all on top of Burnaby Mountain.”

Kaur balanced a full course load with volunteering in psychology research labs, working as a tour guide and convocation usher, and later became an area coordinator in Residence Life. Then in the summer of 2018, she took on an eight-month co-op position as the Engagement Programming Assistant in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) where she oversaw FASS’s peer mentorship program and departmental student unions, did social media outreach, planned student events and coordinated volunteers.

Kaur also volunteered with SFU’s Student Experience Initiative (SEI), helping co-create a project to gather student feedback, before moving into a research assistant position with the SEI leadership. She then tapped the support of her social network to secure a position on the Simon Fraser Student Society as Vice-President of University Relations.

“Becoming VP gave me access to a platform that can make prominent change, whether that is policies or the mindset of students,” Kaur recalls. “I was ready and excited to make change, learn and become a better version of myself for others throughout this experience.”

Coinciding with that role, she participated in Semester in Dialogue where she brainstormed solutions to the housing crisis with folks in the community. Kaur credits her psychology classes with helping her understand human behaviour and the importance of empathy when she found herself in spirited debates around the complexities of housing issues. 

“Even if someone says something that offends me, they might be coming from a place of ignorance, so I can’t be defensive,” she says.

After her convocation in June, Kaur hopes to pursue a PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology and work in the non-profit sector.

“My life goal is to empower others and make an impact in the world,” Kaur says. “Through the incredible support of my friends, family and mentors, I challenged core aspects of myself and gained the courage to challenge others to do the same.”