Women's Scholar Award empowers female students

Faculty and staff at the University of Lethbridge take pride in their students and believe in giving them quality education with as many opportunities as possible to succeed in their chosen career path. Established by the Women's Scholar group in collaboration with Dayna Daniels and Claudia Malacrida, the Women's Scholar Award gives female students the power to achieve their goals and reach their full potential.

Arezou Elliyoon is one recipient of the Women's Scholar Award. Born and raised in Tehran, Iran's capital city, she is the elder of two siblings. Elliyoon is a graduate of Tehran University with a bachelor's degree in surveying and engineering as well as an MBA.

Arezou Elliyoon is exploring the effect of religious orientation on experiences of Iranian women.

She came to Canada and the U of L in September 2008 and is currently enrolled in her second year of the Master of Science in Management program. She says she chose the U of L because of the quality of the program, as well as her desire to travel.

"Most students studying at good universities in Iran believe they should pursue their education in better schools around the world," says Elliyoon. "When you are in such an environment, you somehow get persuaded to make your world bigger and bigger. So, the U of L seemed to be a good choice for me."

Elliyoon explains she is still dealing with the culture change and her experiences have been mainly positive.

"In Canada, you have the freedom to be who you are and to express whatever you think is right," she says. "The best experience I've had here is being able to live independently; that's not so common in my country."

Elliyoon says that while many have the belief that Iran is a restrictive country, the education system is progressing at an accelerated rate.

"In the past, it might not have been common for women to pursue their education, but now, the majority of the students at Iranian universities consist of more women than men," she says, but also notes there are still significant differences between the two countries, such as advancements in technology and financial aid.

With the help of her supervisor, Robbin Derry and two other faculty members, Elliyoon is currently researching the effect of religious orientation on experiences of Iranian women in balancing their work and family roles, the
topic for which she won the award.

"I've always wanted to work on women's issues," says Elliyoon. "Religion is so significant in my country and it has had a huge influence on Iranian culture. So, winning the award was such a delightful moment to me. It was an honour."

Elliyoon says she is unsure of the future, but for now, she hopes her studies will allow her to remain in Canada to pursue a rewarding career.