Maryam Golafshani

maryam.jpgGraduated 2017

Double Major in Critical Theory, Criticsm and Literature and the School for Advanced Studies in Arts and Humanities; Scholar's Electives

Hometown: Waterloo, ON

Current Activity: MA Candidate,Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism, Western University

What attracted you to this program?

I was drawn to SASAH because it encouraged interdisciplinarity and offered small classes where you could build close relationships with professors who would eventually become important mentors. I switched into SASAH after a year as a science student where I was herded into lectures with 800 students who were all asked to learn and regurgitate the same thing. I couldn’t wait to sit in a small class where we were encouraged to explore our own unique interests. 

"I was also always so inspired by my peers’ varied passions, skills, and experiences. Being in such a diverse community helped me realize that there is no single path to or definition of “success”."

What are your thoughts about life as a SASAH student? What makes it unique?

SASAH is unique because your classmates come from a diverse range of programs, but you all always come back together for 1-2 SASAH classes per year. SASAH gives you an intimate, tight-knit home while still letting you take advantage of everything a huge university has to offer. Moreover, SASAH actually brings people and knowledge from different disciplines together. It is truly interdisciplinary program in that way; typically, individual students might choose to take courses across different departments, but those different disciplines rarely come together in a single class like they do in SASAH.

How did your relationships with other SASAH students positively affect your experience at Western overall?

The best part about the SASAH community is how supportive all my peers were (and still are as many of us are still in touch!). There was never any toxic competitiveness between students, and I cannot emphasize enough how valuable that was to my Western experience. I was also always so inspired by my peers’ varied passions, skills, and experiences. Being in such a diverse community helped me realize that there is no single path to or definition of “success”. 

How has SASAH prepared you for the job market and/or graduate school?

In our SASAH courses, we were often given limited guidance for our assignments and thus had to independently figure out what we wanted to do with all that freedom. While that sounds great in theory, in practice it can be really daunting to have so much freedom, but that prepared me so well for graduate school. In grad school, there is no one to “hold your hand” or tell you what you should write your essays or thesis on; it’s mostly up to your to independently explore whatever topic you choose to explore. 

What lessons and skills contributed to your success after you graduated?

I already addressed how SASAH helped me through graduate school above, so here I’ll focus on how SASAH prepared me for a career in medicine (I’ll be starting medical school in the fall). Being able to think and solve problems in an interdisciplinary manner, as well as work with and speak to people in different disciplines is absolutely crucial to my medical career. Medicine is inherently interdisciplinary as it brings together knowledge and practitioners from so many different fields, like the humanities and social work to the basic sciences and health sciences. Being able to apply my knowledge across disciplines is second nature for me thanks to SASAH, and that has served me so well as I now position myself as a humanities scholar in medicine. Most importantly, SASAH gave me the freedom to explore all my various passions, which allowed me to discover my love for the medical humanities in the first place! 

As an experienced graduate, do you have any advice for current SASAH students?

I already addressed how SASAH helped me through graduate school above, so here I’ll focus on how SASAH prepared me for a career in medicine (I’ll be starting medical school in the fall). Being able to think and solve problems in an interdisciplinary manner, as well as work with and speak to people in different disciplines is absolutely crucial to my medical career. Medicine is inherently interdisciplinary as it brings together knowledge and practitioners from so many different fields, like the humanities and social work to the basic sciences and health sciences. Being able to apply my knowledge across disciplines is second nature for me thanks to SASAH, and that has served me so well as I now position myself as a humanities scholar in medicine. Most importantly, SASAH gave me the freedom to explore all my various passions, which allowed me to discover my love for the medical humanities in the first place!