Skip to main content
International Studies

empty
Photo of Miranda
"Everyone deserves to have an amazing university experience and oftentimes the chance to make it amazing is just within reach if you're willing to go for it."

Miranda Pinter-Colett was first introduced to the field of International Studies (IS) in the debate chamber. An avid debater since high school, Pinter-Collett was expected to have a depth of knowledge on a broad range of subjects, from political science, to economics, to philosophy, but says the rounds about international relations were always her favourite. Then, when she started at SFU she chose to major in IS because it allowed her to explore her wide range of interests, “International Studies is a major where I could study a little bit about everything I wanted to learn,” she says.

Pinter-Collett’s debate skills propelled her and the Simon Fraser University Debate Society into the playoffs at the prestigious Hart House Intervarsity (HHIV) debate competition, and she credits much of her academic success to her experience crafting well thought-out arguments. Simultaneously, she says that her time with the School for International Studies was invaluable throughout her debate career.

Pinter-Collett’s academic achievement also led her to teaching a microcredit course on debating for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, an experience that would become a highlight of her undergraduate degree.

Why did you choose to major in International Studies at SFU?

Originally, I chose to major in International Studies because my favorite debate rounds were the ones that involved international relations. International Studies was also a major where I could study a little bit about everything I wanted to learn, whether it was political science, economics, philosophy, sociology, or history.

The reason I stayed in International Studies was because the department always had more courses I wanted to take. I think it's normal once you get part way through your degree to feel uninspired, like you're just completing courses for the sake of credits. But I never felt this way because there were always new professors, new seminars, and more interesting courses I wanted to take.

Do you feel like your experience with debate helped you during your undergraduate degree? Alternatively, have your studies helped you with debate?

Debate absolutely helped me during my undergraduate degree. As someone who was a very active debater in high school, I came into university already knowing how to construct and deconstruct a thought-out argument, and I had knowledge on topics that many folks fresh out of high school don't have expereince with. Most teenagers were not debating about whether the UN should facilitate independence referendums for semi-autonomous regions in their spare time. Entering university with this knowledge and these skills helped me immensely in being able to engage, discuss, and critique course material and write papers.

Simultaneously, studying International Studies was extremely useful to me as a debater. Oftentimes, when you're debating against top teams at high caliber tournaments, a debate round is won or lost on your knowledge of a topic. When all of the people in the room are excellent, the distinguishing factor often becomes which team has the greatest depth of knowledge and analysis on a subject. My education in International Studies provided me much of this depth, which often directly contributed to my partner and I’s success. A great example of this, was when my debate partner and I won an international championship based in Malaysia, on a round about whether it was in the interest of the UAE to normalize ties with Israel; my background in international studies, an inherently multi-disciplinary field, gave us what we needed to outdo our fantastic opponents.

What were your favourite courses or instructors during your undergraduate degree? What assignments or projects were highlights for you?

Of all the IS courses, my two favourites were the class I took on Central Asia, and the one I took on Social Movements in Africa. I loved them because I got to learn about parts of the world that we often don't learn much about in Canada, and it gave us a chance to delve into the political context of these areas. My favorite project had to be writing my final paper for Dr. Jackson’s class on Central Asia, which eventually got published in the Cambridge Undergraduate Journal of Political Affairs

What was your most memorable moment during your undergraduate studies?

The most memorable moment of my undergraduate degree was getting the opportunity to teach a micro-credit course at SFU. The experience of working as an instructor, even for a short micro-credit class, was truly invaluable and, honestly, really cool. The fact that I was encouraged, believed in, and supported by FASS, despite the unconventional nature of hiring a pair of undergraduate students to teach a class really inspired me. Universities can sometimes feel like these big, cold, bureaucratic institutions that don't actually care about students as much as their PR campaigns suggest. However, this experience really showed me that there are lots of people at SFU that truly will go above and beyond to support students and fight to see us succeed.

Can you offer any advice or words of wisdom and encouragement to new undergraduate students in International studies?

I wish I could tell every new student to take advantage of all of the resources available to them at SFU, to apply for things they think they are unqualified for, to reach out to their professors who seem scary and intimidating, and to seek out as much information about potential opportunities as possible. I really believe a lot of students miss out on incredible experiences just because they're too afraid of reaching out, or because they don't put effort into seeking out opportunities. Everyone deserves to have an amazing university experience and oftentimes the chance to make it amazing is just within reach if you're willing to go for it.


This story was originally published on the School for International Studies website on June 8, 2022.

International Studies

You Might Like These... Career Exploration, Professional Development, Workplace Transition, Student Success, SFU Alumni, Convocation

Guy wearing his graduation gown, standing at the edge of a cliff overlooking the city
Justin's Journey

After Justin and Samantha decided to create Career Friends, the rest was history. They have kept each other on track while job-hunting post graduation. Read Justin's story about his experiences after graduating in 2002, and how he overcame the challenges of finding full-time employment.

Graduation ceremony
How to Prepare for the Workforce Before Graduation

How do you stand out and stay ahead of the game in today's increasingly competitive job market? Read on to learn about 4 important resources that can help you advance your career while you're still in school.

christina wu laughing
Life After Co-op Series: Connecting Local and Global Experience

Christina Wu finished a joint major in Business and Communication at SFU and is now working as a Communications Coordinator for the BC Council for International Education. She sat down with us to share her rich Co-op experiences and how they played a significant part in developing the skills and connections she has today.

You Might Like These... Convocation

Photo of Marina
Mental Health and Sports Go Hand-in-Hand

At SFU, Marina Cummiskey competed as a varsity swimmer and became a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee where she advocated for student-athlete mental health. Marina earned academic honours and the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree in sport psychology at McGill University this fall, with a focus on athletic retirement research.

Janine Roller at her graduation
Convocation Reflections: The Winding Road to Find Where You Were Meant to Be

Janine Roller looks back at her SFU co-op experience while speaking at her convocation. She shares how the path you take may not lead to where you expected to go, but it could end up somewhere better.

Photo of Julie
Making a Career Change to Follow a True Passion

Julie Jen graduates with a second degree in computing science. Working as a chartered professional accountant in her early thirties and inspired by her husband's and friends' work in computing science, she decided to go back to school and follow her true passion—despite the hurdles she faced.