Alumni Feature: Meet Shilpa Narayan

April 21, 2021

SFU Degree(s): Bachelor of Arts - Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies, 2021

I am a 25 year year old award-winning social justice, mental health, intergenerational art activist and researcher. I graduated this year from SFU with my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies. My work focuses on the intersections between the LGBTQ+ community, mental health awareness and intergenerational arts activism using theatre and drama. Currently, I am a research coordinator conducting a year long study based on youth ages 16-24 and their mental health experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a very important value of mine that youth voices are heard and recognized.

My activism work came to fruition in Surrey (being raised in this city too) and I have focused on empowering youth in Surrey to become leaders and have their voice heard. I am a leader with the Surrey based LGBTQ+ Youth Group, Youth for a Change, for the past 7 years. Surrey is a diverse, robust, and growing city and I am so lucky that I was able to complete a large part of my degree at SFU Surrey and connect on a deeper level with my community.

What drew you to your area of study?

I have always had a passion for social justice. It has been very important to me to ensure that the LGBTQ+ community and marginalized communities voices are heard and respected. When I saw the Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies program at SFU, I was immediately drawn to its interdisciplinary approach to topics. I wanted to learn more about social movements, political movements and how they interact with our daily way of life. As a queer feminist woman of colour, I wanted to know where activist history began, how power structures impact us and what I can do to use my voice to lift others being impacted by injustices.

What is your favourite memory of your time at SFU?

My favourite memory at SFU is working with such an interdisciplinary group of scholars. In my 7 years, I have been able to connect with professors who come from very diverse personal and academic backgrounds. They taught me the important of intersectional research, the art of critical thinking and so much more. More importantly, they were a support for my personal and professional endeavours. When I was struggling, my professors would go out of their way to ensure student's well being was at the forefront. I will always be grateful for this.

What is your personal takeaway from your time at SFU?

My personal take away from my time at SFU is that 'anything is possible'. SFU showed me that with focus and passion, personal and professional goals can become a reality. There were times in my 7 years at SFU that I felt like I wasn't good enough or smart enough. However, because of the supportive community of my peers and professors, I was able to persevere and reach success! I have learned that I can achieve my goals with patience, vulnerability, and compassion.

What advice do you have for SFU students currently going through their degree?

At times it may feel like you are working against a brick wall, and at times you will feel like you are on cloud nine! Embrace the ups and downs and know that there is support. Embrace vulnerability, practise self-compassion, and take it one day at a time! Connect what you're learning to your daily life and that will help to move forward. You can do it!

Connect with Shilpa on LinkedIn.

Our alumni go on to engage their community in a variety of ways. Read more alumni stories here.