Skip to main content
SFU Staff
Communications and Events Coordinator

Photo of Shilpa Narayan
"As a queer feminist woman of colour, I wanted to know where activist history began, how power structures impact us and what I can do to use my voice to lift others being impacted by injustices.”

Shilpa Narayan holds many titles and achievements: award-winning social justice and mental health advocate, intergenerational art activist and researcher, and soon a SFU Alumni of the Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies (GSWS). 

Narayan’s work “focuses on the intersections between the LGBTQ+ community, mental health awareness and intergenerational arts activism using theatre and drama”. She is a research coordinator for a year long study on youth ages 16-24 and their mental health experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Raised in the city of Surrey, Narayan has given back continuously through activism work and youth empowerment. 

“My activism work came to fruition in Surrey and I have focused on empowering youth in Surrey to become leaders and have their voice heard. I have been involved with the Surrey based LGBTQ+ Youth Group, Youth for a Change, for the past 7 years. Surrey is a diverse, robust, and growing city and I am so lucky that I was able to complete a large part of my degree at SFU Surrey and connect on a deeper level with my community.” 

As member of the LGBTQ+ community and a woman of colour, Narayan says GSWS’s interdisciplinary and intersectional approaches to learning about a variety of topics confirmed she was in the right place for her studies. 

“It has been very important to me to ensure that the LGBTQ+ community and marginalized communities' voices are heard and respected. When I saw the Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies program at SFU, I was immediately drawn to its interdisciplinary approach to topics. I wanted to learn more about social movements, political movements and how they interact with our daily way of life. As a queer feminist woman of colour, I wanted to know where activist history began, how power structures impact us and what I can do to use my voice to lift others being impacted by injustices.”

Narayan reports that while there have been many highlights, her favorite memory throughout her time at SFU has been being able to work with such an interdisciplinary group of scholars in GSWS. 

“In my 7 years, I have been able to connect with professors who come from very diverse personal and academic backgrounds. They taught me the importance of intersectional research, the art of critical thinking and so much more. More importantly, they were a support for my personal and professional endeavours. When I was struggling, my professors would go out of their way to ensure student's well being was at the forefront. I will always be grateful for this.”

Narayan says the support of her peers and professors were key to her ability to weather the ups and downs of university, and the fears of not being “good enough” or “smart enough.” 

“My personal take away from my time at SFU is that 'anything is possible'. SFU showed me that with focus and passion, personal and professional goals can become a reality. There were times in my 7 years at SFU that I felt like I wasn't good enough or smart enough. However, because of the supportive community of my peers and professors, I was able to persevere and reach success! I have learned that I can achieve my goals with patience, vulnerability, and compassion.”

Her tangible and motivating advice for current undergraduate students? Accept the roller-coaster ride, find your supports, and be kind to yourself. 

“At times it may feel like you are working against a brick wall, and at times you will feel like you are on cloud nine! Embrace these ups and downs and know that there is support. Embrace vulnerability, practise self-compassion, and take it one day at a time! Connect what you're learning to your daily life and that will help to move forward. You can do it!”

This story was originally published on the Gender Sexuality, and Women's Studies website on June 22, 2021.

SFU Staff
Communications and Events Coordinator
visibility  89
Jun 22, 2021

You Might Like These... Volunteering, Equity, Diversity + Inclusion, Community Engagement

Children playing hopscotch
An SFU student perspective on the Big Sisters Study Buddy program

You may have heard of them–you may even have an idea of what they do. But have you ever thought of being one? Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland has been serving girls in one-to-one mentoring relationships since 1960, with the mission of “enhancing the confidence, self-esteem and well-being of girls through supportive friendships with caring women”. Each Big and Little Sister match gets together once a week for at least one year. 

STC West Coast
Alumnus Profile: How Crystal Kwon Advanced Her Career Through Volunteerism

Students often overlook one important benefit of volunteerism. While students realize that scholarships and bursaries usually require community engagement, they often forget that volunteerism can also give you the edge you need after you finish your degree.

Kyle and volunteers
Kyle Jung: Expand Your Horizons through Volunteering

Did you know that you can make a difference through volunteering, as well as discovering your passions and career goals? These are just some of the benefits of volunteering, according to Kyle Jung, a 5th-year SIAT student who is also the Vice President of Operations, Interactive Arts & Technology Student Union (IATSU) and the SFSS Forum Representative.

You Might Like These... Indigenous

BladeRunners logo
The Bladerunner Story

Since it began in 1994, thousands of at-risk youth from across BC have successfully participated in BladeRunners. Learn more about the program and success stories through the program.

Aleisha Fernandes, Michelle Lam, Alisha Rana
The Student Experience From a Retired Commuter Student

Aleisha shares her experience as a commuter and how it helped shape her university experience and how it helped her in her studies.