Six students take home Canada Graduate Scholarships

Six award-winning students

Six Royal Roads students were recently announced as recipients of a $17,500 (each) Canada Graduate Scholarship.

Administered jointly by Canada’s three granting agencies: the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Canada Graduate Scholarship program supports “high calibre scholars” so they can develop their research skills while fully concentrating on their studies.

This year’s recipients are focusing their research in areas including the Canadian teen drama franchise Degrassi, raccoon rehabilitation, improved cancer care for underrepresented groups and more.

Alli Boyd

Alli Boyd

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Canada Graduate Scholarship recipient

Master of Arts in Professional Communication student Alli Boyd grew up watching the Canadian teen drama franchise Degrassi. The relatable actors pulled her in to their fictional lives, now, this quintessential piece of Canadiana has become the focus of her graduate thesis.

“To me, television is more than just entertainment; it is a way to connect and find like-minded people,” says Boyd, whose research focuses on representation in in television production and how that affects audience identity formation.

“The study of pop culture helps us gain insight into the deeper meaning of entertainment and how it affects how we see ourselves and how we relate to the world.”

Boyd expects to complete her thesis by August 2023.

Katelyn Moon

Katelyn Moon

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Canada Graduate Scholarship recipient

Through her research, Master of Arts in Leadership student Katelyn Moon is working to support and enhance cultural humility development and impact in the First Nations Health Authority. In partnership with the FNHA Cultural Safety and Humility team, and with support from the Quality Care and Safety Office, she’s interested in answering the question: “How might FNHA employees share their lived experience from their own cultural humility journeys and acts of resistance, to inform experiential learning curricula development that may further advance systemic change?”

“My research is an important contribution to working towards truth and reconciliation,” says the Chilliwack resident. “My work celebrates that cultural humility is learned through life experiences and also will provide new learnings about how to develop more effective cultural humility learning opportunities.”

Moon expects to defend her thesis in the fall of 2023.

Laura Kennedy

Laura Kennedy

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Canada Graduate Scholarship recipient

When she became a volunteer at the BC SPCA Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre (Wild ARC), it wasn’t long before Laura Kennedy fell in love – with raccoons.

“I am fascinated by their intelligence and cognitive behaviors,” says the Master of Science in Environmental Practice student.

“Ever since I watched my first release, I have thought about the long-term welfare and survival of Wild ARC’s orphaned raccoons. Learning that the rehabilitation staff also share these concerns motivated my return to graduate school to pursue a post-monitoring release study of Wild ARC’s rehabilitation-reared raccoons.”

For her thesis, Kennedy will remotely monitor raccoon movements using GPS technology. She hopes what she finds by tracking their survival and movement patterns will lead to enhanced raccoon care and release practices, in turn, increasing their chances of survival.

Kennedy expects her thesis to be complete by fall 2024.

Maria Zarrillo

Maria Zarrillo

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Canada Graduate Scholarship recipient

Master of Arts in Justice Studies student Maria Zarrillo’s research aims to understand how Queer Theory (or Queer Futurity) can contribute to the decolonization of non-profit arts organizations.

“I’ve seen the need for systemic change in the arts through my work as a producer with non-profit arts organizations,” says Zarrillo, who lives in Vancouver. “My experience as a queer and non-binary person influenced my discussion to focus on queer theory and queer utopia as a model.

“In theatre and film, companies will work with dozens of contractors and artists per project. I see companies trying to accommodate all the intersections of identities that they work with using a ‘one-size-fits-all’ policy which leaves many artists, often queer, trans, disabled, and BIPOC artists, feeling left out and unsupported,” they say. “The arts are a powerful tool for systemic change, in and out of the arts sector, but change is needed within the sector to make it more equitable.”

Paramjot Gill

Paramjot Gill

Canadian Institutes of Health Research Canada Graduate Scholarship recipient

Master of Leadership – Health student Paramjot Gill’s research aims to improve cancer care for adolescents and young adults (AYAs) from underrepresented groups.

“As a non-white from East Indian ethnicity, who was the primary caregiver to my mother – who was a AYA during her fight with cancer – I have witnessed the challenges that people of non-white underrepresented cultural groups face when navigating the cancer care system in Canada,” Gill says, who also draws from her experience as a non-practicing medical doctor.

The Anew Research Collaborative research assistant expects to complete her thesis by Sept. 2023. She seeks to understand how young people from non-white, racialized cultural groups experience cancer care and how their cultural needs and priorities can inform and improve care for others.

Richard Chu

Richard Chu

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Canada Graduate Scholarship recipient

As a Canadian of East Asian descent, the rise of anti-Asian racism in BC since the start of the pandemic was especially troubling for Richard Chu.

For his thesis, the Master of Arts in Professional Communication student is looking at this increase, and its relationship to the discourse around multiculturalism.

Multiculturalism was a topic that I was interested about 20-plus years ago when I was completing my BA at UBC,” he says. “Recent events really begged the question: after such a long history of promotion of cultural diversity in Canada (half a century as of 2021, in fact), why was racism was rearing its ugly head so predominantly early on during the pandemic?”

His thesis, which he expects to complete by Spring 2023, will collect survey responses from Canadians of East Asian decent to understand what words and themes they feel might best be emphasized in anti-Asian racism messaging in BC.