Skip to main content
SFU News

empty
Picture of female wrestlers

Growing up, Justina Di Stasio had always loved wrestling, but never imagined becoming the accomplished athlete she is today—a three-time All-American champion and member of Canada’s national senior women’s wrestling team competing at the 2015 Pan Am games in Toronto.

Di Stasio, who is graduating with a bachelor of arts in English, received sponsorship to pursue wrestling at Simon Fraser University from her band, the Norway House Cree Nation in Norway House, Manitoba.

Despite her love of the sport, however, this Coquitlam resident didn’t win a single round during her first four months in the wrestling program.

“But I never thought of quitting,

I looked up to the senior women’s team—they were amazing wrestlers. I knew that if I set goals and worked hard I could be just like them.“

Her hard work paid off. She earned a position on the 2011 Canadian Junior National Team, and represented her country for the first time. She went on to win back-to-back junior national titles.

“The feeling after winning is something so special, it’s almost unexplainable,” she says. “Setting goals and meeting them really helped grow my love for the sport. I really got to see the potential I had in wrestling.”

Despite the pressures of extensive travel, she managed to meet deadlines for her many English essays and other courses, often sacrificing sleep.

“I was able to make good use of time while I was on the road,” she says.

“My two priorities in life are athletics and academics.”

After competing in the Pan Am games this summer, Di Stasio will represent Canada at the Senior World Championships and then begin training for tryouts for the Canadian Olympic team.

She plans to enroll in SFU’s fall 2016 Professional Development Program, with a goal of becoming a high school English teacher.

“I really do enjoy English and I have a passion to provide others with the same memorable intellectual experience I was fortunate to have.”

SFU News

You Might Like These... Indigenous SFU Community Stories, Professional Development, Life Experience, Personal Development, Career Exploration

Mike, author
Indigenous Stories: Mike, SFU Alumni

"I have no solid plans for the future and I love it...I know that every experience that I have had, every failed plan, was really an excellent mistake that gave me the skills I need to handle any situation that gets thrown my way in the future."  Read Mike's story of career exploration, and how to handle constant change.

william lindsay smiling
William Lindsay on Persistance

“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence”. Through my life’s experience I can certainly attest to the truthfulness of these words.I hope lessons for others can be found in them. Hence, “Press On” friends and make your own dreams a reality! Read more about William Lindsay's journey and how they overcame life challenges. 

rudy smiling
Rudy Riemer/Yumk | SFU Department of First Nations Studies and Archaeology

"I grew up in Squamish BC, learning from elders and knowledgeable community members about Squamish Nation culture.  Many of my fondest memories are walking to downtown with my grandpa, sitting at my grand uncles kitchen table and going up the river to fish. During these formative years I was always careful to listen to what they had to say." 

You Might Like These... Indigenous SFU Community Stories

Marianne Ignace
First of Traditional Languages Apps Ready for Testing in New Year

Marianne Ignace has an ambitious plan. Within the next five years, she hopes to have developed language-learning apps for speakers and learners of some 12 First Nations languages in B.C. and Yukon.

Justice for missing and murdered indigenous women
Beyond the Margins: Examining the Systemic Devaluing & Marginalization of Indigenous Women in Canada

This is a paper written by an Indigenous young male of Ojibway and Dene ancestry who wants to raise awareness on the plaguing social issue of murdered and missing Indigenous women. I dedicate this paper to all Indigenous women that remain missing or who have been murdered.

Barry smiling
Barry Vickers

University, many people once told me, is the best time of your life. Yes, there is something to be said about being broke and stressed out with deadlines and exams.