"I was excited to join SFU and the Gender, Sexuality & Women's Studies department as a graduate student to continue to build my empathetic communication skills and better analyze how knowledge gaps in my areas of interest can be filled."

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Nikita Mitra

January 01, 2024

Gender, Sexuality & Women's Studies master's student in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Tell us a little about yourself, including what inspires you to learn and continue in your chosen field

I'm a communications professional with half a decade of cross-jurisdictional experience in the areas of social impact, tech, venture philanthropy and infrastructure. I care about developing critical conversations for women and 'missed-out' communities such as sex workers and HIV-positive individuals. Currently, my work focuses on the impact of climate change on women in the Global South and the deprioritization of healthcare for marginalized communities in a post-pandemic world. My chosen field of Communications & Gender Studies inspire me to advocate for climate change impacts, healthcare marginalization and stigma using a gendered lens.

Why did you choose to come to SFU?

I was excited to join SFU’s Gender, Sexuality & Women's Studies department to continue to build my empathetic communication skills and fill the knowledge gaps in my areas of interest. By choosing to pursue my education in Canada, I hope to comparatively analyse Global North and South social impact systems to improve communications that highlight the gendered impacts of climate change and declining healthcare accessibility.

How would you describe your research or your program to a family member?

I would describe my program as very interdisciplinary, in that it helps academics, activists and professionals from a variety of backgrounds discover knowledge within their contexts. The subjects range from exploring the social movements sparked by feminists to the political activism that’s necessary to curb gender-based violence. The professors are amazing and keen to guide you on your journey and fight for social justice and equality.

How have your courses, RA-ships, TA-ships, or non-academic school experiences contributed to your academic and/or professional development?

Through the courses I’ve taken in my first two semesters, I'm pleased to have seen an improvement in my critical thinking and intersectional analysis skills. I have also been able to refine my research acumen while leading focus group discussions and conducting a scoping review for a local women-led non-profit. In my free time, I work with SFU's Centre for Accessible Learning where I help students with varying abilities succeed in their respective programs.

Have you been the recipient of any major or donor-funded awards? If so, please tell us which ones and a little about how the awards have impacted your studies and/or research

Yes. I am a recipient of the Grace Woodsworth MacInnis Graduate Award. Grace MacInnis was a remarkable woman, and the award that’s bestowed yearly to one student in her name recognizes scholarly promise and engagement on the behalf of women in the wider community. The entrance award has helped me, an immigrant and BIPOC woman, to settle into my new life in Canada and focus on excelling in my program. I also aim to create more safe spaces within my program for diversity & discussion, which has led me to organize a mentorship series for the graduate students in my department with a focus on professional development.

What have been the most valuable lessons you've learned along your graduate student journey (or in becoming a graduate student)?

I have learnt three valuable lessons in my journey as a graduate student: to never forget my positionality and privilege, there are no stupid questions and that you are your own worst critic.

How do you approach networking and building connections in and outside of your academic community?

I try to take a fearless approach to building connections, I usually drop a LinkedIn message to someone whose work I find interesting and request a chat over coffee. I also enjoy going to panel discussions and events organized by SFU, especially the ones organized by the SFU Centre For Dialogue. After meeting someone, I'll always try to stay in touch through email and see if I can add some value to our relationship.


Contact Nikita:nma102@sfu.ca

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