Raveena Walia graduated from UFV in 2019 with a double-major in history and political science – a pathway, she says, that offered “so many amazing experiences” to explore her passion for human rights.
In May 2017, Raveena took a 300-level course on the history of the Holocaust with Dr. Steven Schroeder, which included a study-abroad tour through Poland and Germany where she and a small group of peers were able to see and connect with parts of Holocaust history through the land and local culture.
The trip proved important in another of Raveena’s favourite classes: Post-Communism Eurasia with sessional instructor Larissa Horne.
“We had a big research paper at the end of the course, and as long as our proposal was relevant [Prof. Horne] gave us a lot of freedom to choose our topics,” Raveena recalls. She wrote her paper on Poland’s Holocaust history by incorporating knowledge and insights she’d picked up from studying abroad. Her paper – her “pride and joy” – went on to win the Dr. Michael and Edith Gugenheim Holocaust Memorial Annual Scholarship in May 2018.
With a burgeoning interest in law, Raveena ended up taking several political science courses with Dr. Fiona MacDonald.
“I knew nothing about research until I took [Seminar in Political Theory] with Fiona,” Raveena says. “The course prepared me with base knowledge I needed to write a research report on the ethics of care, which is a feminist approach. I think that kind of research report writing, using concise language, will help me in law school.”
Recognizing Raveena’s interest in feminist theory and qualitative research, Dr. MacDonald hired the undergrad as a research assistant in January 2019 to support with an ambitious new project – Feminist University – aimed at creating inclusive spaces for people of all backgrounds within the university.
"Raveena is the kind of student that inspires her professors,” Dr. MacDonald says. “She is dedicated, thoughtful, and curious about the world. I always learn from my students and working with Raveena was a great opportunity for me to collaborate on new ideas and plan new events."
As a research assistant, Raveena honed skills in report-writing, note-taking, networking, and facilitating events and discussions. Feminist University held consultations with UFV’s Race and Anti-Racism Network (RAN), an in-depth focus group with staff, and hosted Dr. Kim Manning of Concordia University in Montreal to come and discuss her experiences.
“[Feminist University] is one of the best opportunities I had at UFV. I couldn’t imagine anything better, a better way to close off my time as an undergrad.”
Raveena is now studying for her Juris Doctor degree (J.D.) in law at the University of Ottawa.
Asked what advice she’d give to current UFV students, Raveena suggests taking advantage of small class sizes to “build a really good relationship with your professors,” as well as student research opportunities to develop hands-on skills.
When not studying, Raveena likes to travel, read non-school related books, and catch documentaries on Netflix. For those similarly interested in law and social justice, she recommends When They See Us directed by Ava DuVernay and Time: The Kalief Browder Story.