Editor’s Note: As we celebrate African Heritage Month in February, we’re proud to spotlight some of our own people, Black culture, contributions and history.
Here, we meet fourth year StFX BASc in Health student Aliyah Fraser of New Glasgow, NS. Ms. Fraser, who is interested in pursuing a career in medicine, has had an impressive four years at StFX. Along with her studies, she is a varsity athlete, a shooting guard with X-Women Basketball. She is a Jeannine Deveau Scholarship recipient, an Academic All-Canadian and a member of the SAAC Student Athlete Advisory Council. She is a recipient of both a Centre For Employment Innovation Research Mentorship to conduct undergraduate research and a Racial Justice Leadership Grant from the Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership. She has also been involved with anti-racism work on campus.
Health student, varsity athlete, and kindness matters advocate: Meet StFX student Aliyah Fraser
Keeping busy, making a difference, and knowing how much kindness counts has become somewhat of a mantra for StFX student Aliyah Fraser.
The fourth year BASc in Health student from New Glasgow, NS is completing her final year at StFX and is looking to go on to pursue a career in medicine.
Outside the classroom, she is a varsity athlete with the Blue and White, a shooting guard on the X-Women basketball team, and actively involved in the StFX community where she has been working to make a positive difference.
Ms. Fraser is a Jeannine Deveau Scholarship recipient and an Academic All-Canadian. She’s been involved in StFX’s Student Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) and has been active in anti-racism work, including serving on the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) committee and helping to set up modules for the President’s Action Committee on Anti-Racism (PACAR).
She was an inaugural recipient of a Racial Justice Leadership Grant from StFX’s Frank McKenna Centre, which she used to start a Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) varsity association, and a recipient of a Centre for Employment Innovation Research Mentorship, where under the supervision of Dr. Ellen Crumley, she conducted research on Black essential workers and their experience with COVID-19.
“I love to be involved,” she says. “I like connecting with people and participating.”
Basketball, she says, is what initially drew her to StFX (she’s played with the X-Women her entire four years), plus her family connection appealed. Her mother, Meghan, and grandfather Clyde both graduated from StFX.
She was also interested in StFX’s health program.
“I felt it was unique. It was a science degree, but focused on people and applying what you’re learning to life,” says Ms. Fraser, who is interested in becoming a doctor and is considering doing a master’s degree in epidemiology or public health and then medical school. She says she’s always been drawn to health care and to helping people.
The health program has been a great fit. “It has the best professors, the best students,” she says.
“I love it here. I made awesome friends, it feels like a community. I feel at home, with alumni and professors, I’ve really developed into a better person.”
Ms. Fraser says StFX has helped her to consider the impact of her actions on her community, and how being kind to people is so important. “It made me aware of how I impact others.”
IMPORTANT TO LEARN ABOUT HISTORY
As we celebrate African Heritage Month, she says it is especially important to learn about this rich, deep and complex history.
“It’s really important to learn about Black history, especially Black history in Nova Scotia, which is unique, and different than in other provinces,” she says. “It’s a really rich, deep complex history in this province that isn’t really well known and is not taught in schools.”
She suggests people tune into podcasts and webinars that will be featured during month and take time to pay attention to those things and learn something they wouldn’t know about.
Ms. Fraser says she can see things progressing at StFX. In particular, the introduction of an anti-racism policy at the end of her second year and beginning of her third year definitely improved her student experience. There was no policy her first year and that had a negative impact on her, she says. And there is still more that can be done. Ms. Fraser says she would like to see more celebrations of culture on campus to make students feel more comfortable as well as more culturally competent training for faculty and coaches to help create an environment inclusive to all.