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Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
August 26, 2016
Canadian Excellence

Dr. Nancy Freymond, Bharati Sethi and Dr. Nick Coady

FSW Alum Bharati Sethi named Alumni of Achievement

In honour of Wilfrid Laurier's centennial, the university has recognized 100 Alumni of Achievement. This group of extraordinary people "represents a living legacy who inspire lives of leadership and purpose, and who also instill in Laurier graduates the courage to engage and challenge the world in all its complexity".

One of these deserving recipients is Bharati Sethi, current PhD student, and BSW (2007) and MSW (2009) graduate.

Sixteen years ago Bharati could never have imagined where her life would take her or the impact she would have on her community. She arrived in Canada alone, with no money or family, as a young immigrant leaving India in an emergency situation. She had a BSc in chemistry, but still couldn't make a career for herself in Canada. She spent the next 10 years living in Brantford, struggling to support herself as a waitress, a maid and a factory worker, and worrying about being deported.

In 1999 two events occurred that were the beginning of Bharati's new life: she got her Canadian visa and the Laurier Brantford campus opened. Her visa meant she now qualified for financial assistance for education; the new Laurier campus meant that she could attend university. In 2007 she completed her BA in psychology with an 11.9/12 grade point average (gpa) and in 2009 received her MSW at Laurier, earning a gpa of 11.8. She is currently in the Faculty of Social Work's doctorate program.

Her MSW thesis, Exploring Newcomer Settlement and Integration Supports in Brantford and Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk Counties was conducted in collaboration with a newcomer task force, Immigrant, Settlement, Transition, Employment and Partnership (ISTEP). The findings from this research were instrumental in successful funding for local agencies to foster newcomer integration in this area and surrounding counties such as the Mentorship Program and Local Immigrant Partnership. Located in Brantford, ISTEP operates under the Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie and works to support the successful integration of immigrants by facilitating community dialogues, sharing information and establishing diverse partnerships.

"I am extremely proud of Bharati's achievements, and the recognition and acclaim that she brings to the Faculty of Social Work," said Dr. Nancy Freymond, Bharati's PhD supervisor. "She is an extraordinarily gifted scholar and leader in the field of immigrant women's health research."

While Bharati says she was overwhelmed when she received a letter informing her she'd been named one of Laurier's 100 Alumni of Achievement, she's no stranger to receiving awards. She's previously been awarded the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, Faculty of Social Work Graduate Honour Award, President's Graduate Scholarship, Gold Medal for her MSW thesis, Hilary Weston Graduate Award, the OASW Annual Student Social Work Membership Award, MSW Entrance Scholarship, WLU Alumni Medal, Service Canada Educational Fund and the Alexander Educational Award from the YMCA-YWCA of Brantford.

The rise to success has not been easy for Bharati. She's had to struggle with language issues (English is her third language), worry about how to financially support herself and learn how to manage the heavy workload required in the MSW program. But she wants others to see that if she could do it, so can they. "I look at some of the MSW students in the program today and I want to tell them, 'You can do it. Just believe,'" said Bharati. "Laurier changed my life. I have to pinch myself sometimes to believe this is happening."

In addition to Bharati, nine other Social Work graduates were recognized as Alumni of Achievement:

  • Daniel C. Andreae
  • Cathy Brothers
  • Sandra J. Montour
  • Heather Munroe-Blum
  • Akiie Ninomiya
  • Marcia Powers-Dunlop
  • Graydon Nicholas
  • Kelly D. Murumets
  • Allon Bross

(MSW 1976), Owner, Brossland Investment (MSW 1996), President and CEO, ParticipACTION (MSW 1974), Lieutenant-Governor, New Brunswick (MSW 1976), Chief of Social Work and Attendance, North West, Toronto District School Board (M.Div/MSW 1976), Asia-Pacific Development Centre on Disability, Thailand (MSW 1975), Principal and Vice-Chancellor, McGill University (MSW 1994), Director, Ganohkwasra Family Assault Support Services (MSW 1969), Executive Director in Residence, Capacity Waterloo Region (MSW 1980), Pioneer in Social Work