Interview with Kseniia Hladkikh
I came to Canada in August 2019 to pursue a Master of Arts (Sociology) degree at McMaster University. By then I had graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Ukraine. I was interested in studying Sociology to understand how such concepts as ethnicity, gender, and culture impact our perceptions of ourselves and the people around us. Since our perceptions of the world influence decision-making and policy development, I wanted to delve deeper into the most concerning issues both in Canada and globally to effectively contribute to the empowerment of marginalized groups and communities.
Ever since I can remember, I have been very ambitious. When I was a teenager, I dreamed about working at the United Nations. International relations seemed to be the right choice. It is a rich and dynamic field of study that offers an interdisciplinary perspective on both local and global processes that shape world’s order. Understanding such processes is important to navigate global power dynamics and anticipate substantial transformations, especially in today’s extremely unpredictable circumstances.
For my graduate thesis I focused on the experiences of internally displaced students in Ukraine. Since Russia started an ongoing war against Ukraine in 2014, annexing Crimea and occupying parts of Donbas, millions of Ukrainians – including students – have been displaced either within Ukraine or abroad. I explored the attitudes of Ukrainian society regarding displaced students and how different factors such as media, language, and stereotypes shaped their interactions after their displacement. I’m very grateful to my supervisor, Dr. Vic Satzewich, for his tremendous support with my thesis.
After I graduated, I was eager to apply my research knowledge and take part in impactful projects. Pivotal Research is working on multiple projects in a variety of sectors, which is the perfect opportunity for me to utilize my expertise as well as gain experience working with different clients, industries, and research methods.
My work at Pivotal Research started with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) policy research project, the focus of which was the TFWP in Canada and TFW Prairie provinces project. My knowledge of Canada’s immigration landscape as well as my understanding of NGO work have been very helpful in navigating the intricacies of the TFWP and the project itself. I am happy that our work has positively influenced numerous immigrant-serving organizations in three Canadian provinces and I am hopeful that our recommendations will be considered by advocacy organizations and policy-makers for the improvement of the program in the future. For another project at Pivotal Research, I interviewed newcomers to Canada to explore their needs and concerns. As a recent immigrant to Canada, I have a good understanding of what issues newcomers face and how challenging their journey can be. It feels great to be able to apply my academic knowledge and lived experience to better understand perspectives of immigrants in order to support projects aimed at making them feel more welcome in Canada.