Skip to main content
SFU Staff
Communications and Events Coordinator

Photo of Maki Cairns
"She encourages students to remember that studying is only one part of the journey. With many options for different countries and universities to choose from, she says it’s equally important to have fun during your studies and 'make time to explore and travel [when it is safe to do so].'”

Undergraduate student Maki Cairns credits the Wonder Woman comic book series as part of her drive to study at the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies (GSWS). An avid comic book and graphic novel reader, Cairn’s interest in feminism was sparked from her hobby and has turned into a full course of study. Currently she is a fifth-year student working on completing a Joint Major in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies and Psychology.

“I am continuously impressed and surprised each semester with the new course offerings.” Cairns commends the GSWS Department for the variety of courses she has been able to take. The range of topics she’s studied have also helped fostered critical engagement with theory in Maki’s area of study.

Cairns says her favourite class was GSWS 333, “Intersectional Feminist Journal Praxis,” a class taught in Spring 2020 by then-Ruth Wynn Woodward Junior Chair, Dr. Ela Przybylo. The class opened her eyes to the complexities of feminist thinking and practise within and outside academia. She says, “it taught me that knowledge should not be kept for a small group of individuals but for everyone,” a radical idea in the current climate of the academic publishing world. 

Working with her peers, she created an open-access journal, a project which she is proud to note is still accessible today here. Working in pairs, Cairns explains that they chose tasks based on each component of designing a journal. She worked with the peer review team to ensure every piece of work aligned with the calls for submissions that they had put out. She enjoyed the collaborative process, and says while it “definitely was a lot of work, it was rewarding to see [the journal] in its final form!”

Cairns is also passionate about advocacy for women and gender non-conforming women of colour. She is a member of the British Columbia chapter of the General Assembly Binding Women for Reforms, Integrity, Equality, Leadership, and Action (GABRIELA). The organization is “committed to liberation and justice for all Filipinos who identify as women or gender non-conforming and for national democracy in the Philippines.” 

Cairns has helped organize a number of events that highlight and share Filipino women's perspectives and concerns on social, political, and economic issues. Among these events has been a dialogue event called Share Ko Lang, where Filipino women share their thoughts and feelings on current social, political, and economic issues.

When asked what encouragement or advice she would give to fellow incoming students, Cairns says the GSWS Student Union has provided her with opportunities to meet and make friends with wonderful people at fun events, and she urges fellow students to consider joining their departmental student union.

Moreover, she encourages students to remember that studying is only one part of the journey. With many options for different countries and universities to choose from, she says it’s equally important to have fun during your studies and “make time to explore and travel [when it is safe to do so]”. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cairns pursued a Study Abroad program and travelled to the Philippines. She says learning more about her own culture and making lifelong friends during the trip was a life-changing experience.

Being a GSWS student continues to be a positive experience for Maki, as she says that she is “quite grateful for the department and faculty for creating a space I feel comfortable and safe to be in.”

This story was originally published on the Gender Sexuality, and Women's Studies website on March 16, 2021.

SFU Staff
Communications and Events Coordinator
visibility  64
Mar 16, 2021

You Might Like These... Co-op Reflections, Professional Development, Career Exploration, Student Success

picture of marlo in a lab, smiling
Student Spotlight: Marlo Shackleford

The 4th and final interview with the MBB co-op students. The OLC talks to Marlo Shackleford, a 4th year MBB student who worked 3 terms over the last year first with Welichm Biotech Inc. and then UBC James Hogg iCAPTURE Centre at St. Paul’s Hospital.

Old magazine that reads, "Cool! English"
Doing Your English Degree? Be Ready fro Unexpected Career Opportunities

What can you do with an English degree? The wide range of opportunities may surprise you. Arts & Social Sciences Co-op staff and English Undergraduate Advisor offer tips on pursuing a career with a degree in English.

animated man being pulled down a hill an @ sign, underneath the words "take control of your reputation"
Enhancing Your Online Reputation

Your resume and cover letter impressed them… Your interview dazzled them… and you’re confident that your references will sing your praises. But, what else could factor into an employer’s assessment of you as a potential employee?

You Might Like These... Convocation

Photo of Fegor
Centering the Stories of People, Community, and Self

FCAT student speaker, Fegor Obuwoma, reflects on her time as an SFU student studying film and communications, and as an active member of campus advocacy groups.

UNYA Banner
From Athlete To Coach

Tysun shares his story of progressing from Student to Teacher, or more specifically, from Athlete to Coach and shares some advice for those looking to get involved with their community.

Photo of Ghezal
Determination, Perseverance, and Community

Fourth-year Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies student Ghezal Durrani’s story is that of determination, perseverance, and resilience despite the odds typically stacked against those who immigrate to Canada in similar circumstances. Reflecting upon her past as a teenage bride, her experience with education, and her life’s journey (so far), Ghezal’s story is nothing short of inspiring.