Effie Sapuridis awarded the Graduate Student Award of Merit by SWAAC

Professional headshot of Effie SapuridisApril 13, 2023

By FIMS Communications Staff

The Faculty of Information and Media Studies is thrilled to announce that Media Studies PhD candidate, Effie Sapuridis, has been awarded the Senior Women Academic Administrators of Canada Graduate Student Award of Merit, announced in April. The award is based on outstanding academic achievement, service, and exemplary leadership.

From the moment Effie came to Western’s campus in 2019, she was searching for a strong community. However, after a short period of lively classrooms, full conversations and a strong community, the pandemic forced everyone into isolation and the community naturally diminished. This is when Effie stepped up and made a tremendous impact with her leadership skills and initiative. Effie credits the pandemic, and its negative effect on her community, as her main driving force to take on leadership positions, such as with the FIMS Peer Mentor Program.

“Six months into my PhD, the pandemic hit. Suddenly, this incredible community--with boisterous offices and always-packed kitchens and classrooms full of great conversation--was gone. And on top of that, we all faced hardships we could have never expected. I think this confluence of events made me really get involved,” says Effie.

In 2019, when Effie first joined FIMS, she co-founded the FIMS Peer Mentor program. The student run program connects new students with upper-year students to help them make a smooth transition to university. The online version of this initiative has been used over the past few years and has eased the transition to university life for many new FIMS students.

“My peer and friend Charlotte Nau had the brilliant idea to start FIMS Peer Mentor Program so the new students wouldn't feel so adrift, and I was thrilled to help her with that; and then financial insecurity became more dire than before, so I worked with my fellow students and our faculty to help improve the financial situation on the ground for our students.”

Along with pursuing her PhD in FIMS, Effie contributes her time as a teaching assistant in multiple FIMS undergraduate courses. She is the sole Western PhD student on the University's Board of Governors and leads the Safe Campus Coalition. Along with being an asset to the FIMS community, Effie also shares her talents with the broader London community by freelancing as a digital strategist and academic editor. Effie also served as the Elected Speaker for the Society of Graduate Students (SOGS) from 2020-21 and was appointed their Vice President Student Services from 2021-22.

Effie says that giving back to FIMS feels natural because of the way the community has helped her.

“FIMS (my colleagues, the faculty, the staff, the actual physical spaces) has given me so much in such a short amount of time; I've learned how to be a better academic, leader, community member, and friend during my time here. It feels natural to give back to the FIMS community because of these reasons, and because I care about what happens here. I care about what happens in my community.” explains Effie.

"Sapuridis' project is penetrating and fresh - and poised to have a significant impact on a wide variety of fields." - Award Nominator

In addition to exemplary leadership, the Graduate Award of Merit is also awarded based on academic achievements.

Effie’s dissertation is centered around digital storytelling on new digital platforms, such as TikTok. She highlights the importance of using varied perspectives in storytelling and the dangers of eliminating these perspectives and only telling a single-sided story— especially in fictional worlds. Her research also focuses on how fan fiction serves as a popular medium for marginalized people to place themselves into popular culture.

Her papers and multimedia work are published in Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 30, Humanities, vol. 11, no. 3, and HKS Case Program, Harvard Kennedy School.

Along with Effie’s doctoral research she also works on her own passion project, Fterota Logia, an adult literary journal. Fterota Logia is an online collaborative space where people can house their fan-made fiction.

The pursuit of a doctorate is what brought Effie to Western and to FIMS, but it’s the relationships and personal connections she’s made that stand out to her now as being most critical.

“One of the most important things that has crystallized for me since coming to Western is the importance of community, equity, and care -- I have realized how important these three values are to me and how transformative they can be. I try to bring these values into everything I do whether it’s just my day-to-day existence, the way I engage with my research, or the spaces I exist in as a student leader.”

Recipients will be presented their awards at the annual SWAAC conference, held from May 4-6.