Spring 2016 Caledonia Award Winners
Please click the student's name to see their write-up.
Jacqueline (Jackie) Parsons
Jackie is a fourth-year student pursuing a major in world literature and a minor in political science. She was overjoyed to receive the Caledonia Award. “I literally gasped. I was sitting in class when I saw the email announcing that I got the award.”
She attended Brookswood Secondary School in Langley where representatives from different universities gave presentations. She recalled being blown away by SFU, and impressed with the World Literature Program’s flexibility to combine a major with other concentrations.
By attending university, she honours her mother who was the first member of her family to receive a post-secondary education. “My mom grew up in poverty. She always told me that university was the key to her happiness and to her ability to have a good job, a house, and the best possible quality of life.” Jackie believes that a university education creates more informed and engaged citizens.
The Caledonia Award helped Jackie with expenses while on exchanges, including a term studying literature in France; a political science exchange at Sciences Po in France; and attendance at the Prague Field School. She also travelled to Valencia, Spain, where she visited landmarks that inspired Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls.
After graduation, she plans to apply for a six-month internship program at the Legislative Assembly in Victoria; she hopes to develop a career in government administration.
Danielle is a fourth-year student pursuing a major in world literature and a minor in kinesiology. She came to SFU directly after completing high school at Fleetwood Park Secondary School in Surrey. The Explorations first-year program at SFU’s Surrey campus introduced her to world literature, anthropology, and kinesiology. She had trouble deciding which subject would be her main focus until a class with Dr. Ortabasi confirmed Danielle’s love for world literature. Her courses have taught her the value of close reading, of interpretation, and of critical thinking -- skills she applies to other areas of life.
Danielle had received a scholarship in a previous term and had been struggling to maintain the GPA requirement while working part-time in a goal to graduate debt free. She eventually missed the GPA requirement by 0.01%. Her scholarship was cancelled, and she was devastated. A world literature professor suggested she apply for the Caledonia Award based on the strength of her marks and passion for the subject. The award has alleviated much of the stress she had been under in trying to renew her previous scholarship to finance her studies and participate in an international practicum.
She plans to pursue her teaching credential in Fall 2017 and inspire new generations of students by becoming an elementary school teacher.
Janelle is a fourth-year student pursuing a major in world literature and a minor in mathematics. She studied at Heritage Woods Secondary School in Port Moody. An entrance scholarship convinced her to attend SFU over another university, and it was here that she was exposed to world literature. Her two favourite subjects in high school were math and English, and she had planned to continue with them at SFU. When she took a world literature class, she realized the study of different cultures was her calling.
She describes the World Literature Program as a small department that is comfortable and less intimidating with small, interactive classes led by professors who get to know their students. The world literature major was flexible enough to allow her to continue with math, which she believes she might have had to drop had she taken a different major.
Janelle loves that she can discover new cultures through world literature. “It’s made me realize how little I knew about the world.” Last year, she had a chance to travel and expand her understanding of other places and people during an exchange at the University of Leeds.
When she completes her BA, she plans to pursue her teaching credential and begin a career teaching math or English in high school. She has been gaining teaching experience through the Friends of Simon tutoring program. “Receiving the Caledonia Award definitely validated what I’m doing. It’s nice to be recognized for something you love.”
Anna is a second-year student pursuing a major in world literature and a minor in anthropology. She studied at Thomas Haney Secondary School in Maple Ridge, then joined the Global Issues First Year Leaning Community in her first year at SFU Surrey. While she enjoyed courses in international studies and history, it was her exposure to world literature that inspired her adoption of the major.
She had been worried that studying world literature would limit her career opportunities, but as she continued with her studies, she realized world literature is multidimensional. “You get to study art and literature, and it encourages freedom. It’s creative and every text is like opening a door. It crosses national boundaries, takes down borders, and builds bridges. It’s changed my worldview. It puts everything into perspective and shows that there is so much more out there.”
Anna helped plan the academic panels for the first World Literature Student Conference. She also edited and is now a publisher for Lyre Magazine. She dreams of becoming a professor and would love to stay connected to the university environment regardless of where her career leads her.
She was waiting for a friend at Renaissance Coffee when she read the email that she had received the Caledonia Award. Just as her friend arrived, she let out a scream of joy. The award encouraged Anna and confirmed that she made the right choice in choosing her major.
Anna is amazed that the Caledonia Awards were created by an SFU alumni family to help current world literature students. “It’s amazing that they’re doing this. It’s so nice to know that someone cares about our program.” The award has inspired her to pay it forward by helping other students through philanthropy in the future.
Stephanie Hefti is a fourth-year student from Port Coquitlam who is pursuing a major in history and a minor in world literature. When she dropped out of high school, she never imagined she would go back.
She eventually moved into a career managing a call centre while raising her son as a single parent. She then worked at Kodak on a contract that ended after four years. At the age of 35, she found herself at a crossroads. “I started thinking: What do I want to be when I grow up? All of a sudden I was middle-aged and I didn’t know what I wanted in life.”
She considered finishing high school, but talked herself out of it. “I thought it was financially impossible. I thought I couldn’t. I thought it was irresponsible.” A friend convinced her that she had to go for it. As soon as she committed to the opportunity, doors opened. She finished her high school diploma, then enrolled at SFU. “It was a blessing in disguise.”
Her son is now 14 and supports her efforts. At SFU, Stephanie has rediscovered her love of education and writing. She has contributed to The Tartan (a magazine published by The Peak) and is enjoying all the opportunities available at SFU. She is passionate about human rights, African-American history and diaspora, and learning about history and other cultures. She sees world literature as providing a subjective lens on historical events that demonstrate human perspective and insight. By reading about other cultures in world literature, she perceives a shared humanity.
After finishing her undergraduate degree, she plans to pursue her teaching qualification through SFU’s Professional Development Program (PDP). She is also considering a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. Now that she has experienced post-secondary education, she knows how valuable it is. “I can’t imagine not having done it. The more you learn, the more you feel it’s essential.”