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Wilfrid Laurier University Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing
October 1, 2014
 
 
Canadian Excellence

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Bharati Sethi, Student



When Bharati Sethi immigrated to Canada from Mumbai, India as a 19-year-old student, she had big aspirations.

“It was my lifelong dream to attain a PhD and someday teach at a university,” she says.

Fourteen years later, she’s a Canadian citizen and on the verge of making her dream a reality. Sethi, 34, is now a PhD student in Laurier’s Faculty of Social Work, drawing on her personal experiences to study immigrant women and mental health.

It’s a topic that’s close to her heart. Settling in small-town Ontario, she faced many obstacles as a newcomer. Her degree from Mumbai University didn’t carry any weight and she was dependent on her employer for immigration sponsorship. It took six years for her to become a landed immigrant.

“I never gave up, even when I cleaned houses and worked for years as a waitress bound by my immigration status,” says Sethi. “Many of my employers laughed at my dream. But even as a non-status individual in Canada, I kept focus on my goal.”

Sethi has earned many awards and scholarships, including a $150,000 Vanier Graduate Scholarship to pursue her doctorate. In 2008, she became one of the first recipients of the Ontario government’s Hilary M. Weston Scholarship, which recognizes graduate social work students for their commitment to mental health issues.

More recently, she earned a 2012 Ontario Women’s Health Scholars Award worth $20,000, which will support her community-based study investigating the link between employment and health as told from the perspective of immigrant and/or refugee women from the visible minority population.

“She is totally committed to social justice issues in the faculty and in her local community,” says Dr. Lesley Cooper, dean of Social Work. “And this commitment to social justice drives her research interests.”