Graduating with a BA in Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies (GSWS) and Psychology, Alicia Fahrner credits her experiences at GSWS for inspiring clarity in both her academic and personal life as a woman of colour.
“One of my favourite things about GSWS is that I am always learning and unlearning ideas which challenge my own beliefs and remain critical toward institutions of power.”
Alicia initially came to SFU to pursue a major in Psychology to garner a better understanding of the mind. Throughout her studies, she was drawn to Cultural Psychology as an epistemological tool to understand the complexities of different cultures and the ways in which human behaviours are influenced.
Taking courses in GSWS provided a breadth of scope to Alicia’s studies. “To me, GSWS really complimented my Psychology journey,” she says. “It allowed me to not only understand individual behaviours and how they are influenced but also critically analyze our societies and how they shape/socialize us.”
During her studies, Alicia has also served as an active member of several extracurricular clubs and programs. She was the president, departmental representative and SFSS council representation for GSWS Undergraduate Student Union (GSWSSU) where she co-organized several engaging events like Escape the Patriarchy escape room, which contained several themes such as Cards FOR Humanity; Connect the Corporation to Climate Change; Smash the Patriarchy (wall); Where are the Feminists Picture Search (think Where’s Waldo with Feminist Icons).
In 2019, Alicia received the Rosemary Brown Undergraduate Award in Social Justice, recognizing her work on the podcast series “Black Mamas Matter.” She created the podcast to examine the multifaceted avenues of structural violence against black women and other women of colour within the maternal health care system. Alicia’s caring, creative and active contributions to the GSWS and broader SFU community, are respected and admired by students, staff and faculty alike.
Alicia says the key to her success has been a mixture of perseverance and self-love. When asked if she has any words of wisdom for other students, also looking to make a positive difference in their communities, she advises, “Take time for yourself, as you are learning so much in your courses, learn more about yourself. Who are you, what do you like to do, what is something unexpected that you just learned about yourself? These two things are what really built me into the person I am today, who is thankful for myself, my opportunities, and my willingness to persevere through difficult challenges.”
Now that she has completed her degree, Alicia has several goals on the horizon. She wants to move back to Germany and continue her work in podcasting with a series exploring the lived experiences of Afro-Deutsche (Black Germans). She also has her sights on completing a Ph.D. in Anthropology, focusing on studying the impacts of stress and trauma from systemic racism and anti-black discrimination on bodies and health.
This story was originally published on the Gender Sexuality, and Women's Studies website on October 20, 2020.