Maharus Noorani: Your Fortnite character's outfit says something about you

By Danielle Dufresne

Mars's hometown: Hamilton, Ontario

Mars Noorani says that while society often focuses on one’s intelligence or looks, it’s important for individuals to be comfortable with themselves.


Maharus "Mars" Noorani has spent the last seven years as a Western student. After completing two undergraduate degrees in three disciplines, he is now working toward an MA in Media Studies.

Mars says he brings a diverse perspective to the program as both a refugee and a person of colour.

Mars was born in Dubai, UAE but spent his early childhood in Dallas, Texas. However, after the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, it became too dangerous for his family to live in a southern state.

“My family and I were treated like outsiders,” Mars said.

They came to Canada as refugees and settled in Hamilton, Ontario.

When Mars decided to attend university, choosing Western, located in London, Ontario, was simple. With Mars’s sister already studying at Western, it felt like the next closest thing to home. 

Fun Fact

Mars is on Western’s Wrestling team and has ranked top five in several tournaments.

Mars began his academic career at Huron University College, an affiliate of Western, where he completed undergraduate degrees in Economics, English and Cultural Studies, and Political Science.

As an aspiring professor, Mars always planned to do a master’s degree. The idea for his MA research came while doing his English and Cultural Studies degree. After reading Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto, Mars found himself fascinated by her discussion of technology as an extension of one’s body.

Mars was accepted into the Master of Arts in Media Studies program, offered through the Faculty of Information & Media Studies in 2020. He began his own research into video games and embodiment. “I mean, why does my Fortnite character have a cheetah suit on?” Mars says with a laugh.

Alongside his supervisor, Dr. Luke Stark, Mars now researches how avatars in video games are an extension of a player’s body.

"I think everyone needs to go through university or post-secondary education. It’s not just about learning specific topics, but more importantly about growing as an individual."

One of Mars’ favourite memories at FIMS is his meetings with different faculty members as he searched for the right supervisor. Although he was inspired after every conversation, Dr. Stark really stood out to him.

“I connected with him on a personal level but also an academic, intellectual level,” Mars explains.

The connections Mars has made in FIMS are what he cherishes the most. Mars recalls countless casual Zoom calls with his Media Studies colleagues where they talked for hours.

“Everyone makes you feel like you deserve to be there and that you belong there,” Mars says.

After finishing his MA, Mars plans to apply to PhD programs in Europe. He not only wants to learn how people think and work in other cultures, he also hopes he can spread what he’s learned at Western to other parts of the world.

Profiles in the Meet Our Students section are written by students in the Master of Media in Journalism & Communication program, who are enrolled in MMJC 9604 - Professional Writing.