Psychology student Jennifer Chou carves out path through passion for student engagement and community
By Sophie McCann
Reposted from FASS News
Jennifer Chou began her time at SFU with an interest in psychology. Drawn to the versatility of the program, she was always curious about the complexities of human behaviour. Though she was unsure what career path she wanted to take, Chou says she knew her time as a psychology student would be useful no matter where she ended up. “After all,” she says, “you always need to work with other people.”
Teamwork and leadership defined her time at Simon Fraser University. Combining concepts learned in the classroom with real-world experience, Chou got involved with the on-campus student community and was able to better navigate group projects, volunteer work, and leadership within clubs and extracurriculars. During her time as a co-op student with SFU Health & Counselling, Chou realized the importance of teamwork and leadership. “[In the workplace], you always need to work with others,” she explains, “having bad communication can mean huge delays in projects, which can cost a company lots of money.” She adds that being able to be both a good team member and team leader means opening yourself up to meeting new people and making new friends.
Chou is the founder of the SFU Knitting Club which has amassed over 300 followers on Instagram and 100 active members in their Discord server. She says she’d always been interested in joining a knitting club since high school, but was disappointed to see that one had not been established at SFU.
“My friends told me to start one, but I always made excuses saying I was too busy. In reality, I was just scared because it seemed so intimidating to start a club, and I didn’t think I would know what to do.”
It was during her time as a co-op student that Chou had the opportunity to run the Creative Collective, an initiative that provides students with craft supplies and encourages creative expression. Her time teaching members of the collective how to craft and knit gave her the confidence to later found the SFU Knitting Club. While it’s an extracurricular activity, it’s helped build her leadership and student engagement skills.
Chou’s experience starting and running a club taught her first and foremost that “things are not as difficult as they seem.” She recalls that as she spent more time at SFU, she realized that nobody has it all figured out. What is most important, she highlights, is the willingness to try. Even now, after hosting more than 60 events with a variety of different clubs and groups, she does not know it all. “You figure it out along the way, and have lots of people to support you,” she says. The welcoming community at SFU gave her the confidence to venture outside of her comfort zone and try new things.
Chou says she sometimes wonders if she should have focused more on her future career, but she reports that balancing her coursework, extracurriculars, and various positions around campus (including VP of Student Life for the Simon Fraser Student Society and VP of Marketing for SFU LYFE) have given her numerous valuable skills like teamwork, leadership, and time management. And, she notes, these are skills that help her stand out to employers, make new connections. and have experiences that are only possible outside of a classroom setting.
As a FASS Connections Mentor for two years, Chou is also experienced in helping new students navigate their first year at university. Her advice to new students? Do not be afraid of reaching out and meeting new people.
“The [university] experience is what you make out of it” she says, “one of my mentees reached out to me in her first year with so many questions, and I loved talking to her because the first-year enthusiasm was really contagious. Now, she’s part of the leadership team of multiple clubs and slowly discovering what she wants to do for her future career. All of this happened because she was eager to get involved and ask questions!”
After graduation, Chou plans to pursue a career in User Experience (UX) Design. She is attracted to this field since it combines psychological principles with the marketing and design skills she’s picked up throughout her extracurriculars and co-op.
“Involvement with student groups at SFU taught me what I liked and disliked,” she says, and she can now apply this knowledge when looking at future career paths.
In the lead-up to Fall 2021 Convocation, SFU will share stories from our eight faculties about some of our amazing graduands.
SFU’s Fall 2021 Convocation will be held Oct. 5-8. It will be the university’s first in-person convocation since 2019. The ceremonies will be webcast on SFU’s YouTube channel for those wanting to join in from home and around the world. For more information about SFU’s Fall 2021 Convocation, visit http://www.sfu.ca/convocation.html. Read more about our exceptional graduands here.
Be sure to share your convocation experience on social media by using the #MySFUGrad hashtag.