Fifty inspiring alumni: Huyen Pham, Sunera Thobani, Bob Everton and Ashley Monks

November 13, 2015

As part of SFU's celebrations to mark the University's 50th Anniversary, the Office of Graduate Studies & Postdoctoral Fellows asked graduate program staff, faculty and retirees to choose the top 50 most inspiring graduate students from the more than 22,000 who have earned graduate degrees from SFU in the last five decades. 

Huyen Pham, MA ’14, humanities

Huyen Pham is working in a field she never expected to love. She is the program assistant for SFU’s Institute for the Humanities, an organization that engages students, faculty and the community on contemporary issues ranging from Arab art activism to the Greek economic crisis.

Pham says: “In my role with the institute, I get to help the public access the humanities and experience that same wonder I had when I first discovered this discipline. When people come to events and they say, 'Oh I thought this would be purely academic, but it was very informative and relevant to current issues,' I feel great.” 

Sunera Thobani, PhD ’98, sociology and anthropology

Sunera Thobani is a professor with UBC’s Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice. Straddling the worlds of advocacy and academia, her work centers on eradicating racial violence, inequity and exclusion within Canada.

“This country is often perceived as a peace-loving and tolerant nation, and yet we have failed to come to terms with our own heterogeneity,” Thobani says. “There can be no social justice without the decolonization of Indigenous peoples and addressing misperceptions of immigrants as outsiders and a drain on resources.” 

Bob Everton, PhD ‘03, communication

In September 1973, Bob Everton was one of thousands of Chileans and foreign nationals who were detained at Santiago’s National Stadium as part of Pinochet's coup.

“Bob never expected to escape the stadium alive — and he wouldn't have if the Canadian embassy's cultural attaché hadn't intervened,” says Carmen Aguirre, Everton’s stepdaughter and author of Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter.

“The fact that he did survive solidified his commitment to supporting the Chilean resistance movement and countless Chileans in the Vancouver community.”

Everton was locally and internationally recognized as a tireless social and political activist. He completed a PhD at SFU's School of Communication, where he also worked as a sessional instructor, in 2003. He passed away from a heart attack in 2004.

Ashley Monks, PhD ’01, psychology

Hormones. They are the one messaging system we use even more than email and yet we know very little about how they operate.

Ashley Monks is changing that. He is currently a professor in the University of Toronto's psychology department with a cross appointment in cell and systems biology.

Monk’s research explores the role and impact of sex hormones on an area that has not been fully explored within the bio-psychology field: muscle development and the nervous system. Sex hormones coordinate development, physiology and behavior with reproduction.