People of USask: Naheda Sahtout

Naheda Sahtout (GPSC'17, PhD'21) is a proud USask alumna working as a policy analyst at Natural Resources Canada.

Where and what are you doing now?: I recently joined Natural Resources Canada as a policy analyst, as part of their Policy Analyst Recruitment Development Program. Prior to joining Natural Resources Canada, I was a science analyst with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. I will soon be moving to the National Capital Region.  

Tell us about your USask experience: There’s so much to talk about. My experience at USask was something that shaped who I am today. I had the opportunities to grow as an individual and to develop skills. They were not all academic skills, per se, but more so the soft skills that are needed for you to be able to speak to people you don’t know, to network, to collaborate, to jump into something that might not be your forte or expertise. I had mentors I looked up to who provided me with prospects to learn outside science, and I’m tremendously thankful for their support.  

What do you say to someone considering attending USask?: I think USask provides you opportunities to venture outside academics. You have to go and seek out these opportunities as they aren’t going to come knocking on your door. There’s a whole range of different individuals on campus who are dedicated to what they do and are always appreciative of students helping them. Students just need to seek these opportunities and talk to people and know that you go to university to get a degree, but should leave with a lifetime of skills. 

You made a point of getting involved in your time on campus. Why?: Well, No. 1, I figured out quite early on during the program that academia was not the path for me. I love teaching, but I knew research was not something I would probably venture into after graduation. I needed to see what else I was good at, and I needed to develop skills that I could potentially be using in any future career. And No. 2, working in a lab, 24/7, can kind of get boring. I needed something to distract me from failed experiments and often I could go back (to work) with some clarity, a fresh mind and a fresh perspective on what to do next when I took a break. Number 3, I know that I am a very introverted person, so I really needed to go out of my comfort zone and just develop myself as an individual and get to know what my ambitions and goals are. You’re told during school that you’re good at this, you’re good at that, but I needed to find out for myself what I was good at and what else I needed to work on. 

How does your USask education set you up to be what the world needs?: I think by allowing me opportunities outside of academia and not just limiting my scope to the graduate degree. I was fortunate to have a supervisor that was flexible and allowed me to take my time during the program. As such, I was able to participate in activities and initiatives that I normally wouldn’t participate in. I recently finished my journey as an Action Canada fellow, a 10-month public policy leadership program that aims to enhance emerging leaders’ understanding of the country and public policy choices for the future … I don’t have a degree in public policy or public administration, but the skills I developed at USask gave me opportunities to see how I could apply my science education and skills set to really build a cohesive and collaborative Canadian community. There’s a lot of things I think my USask degree and education provided; however, it was the skills that I developed at USask that really helped me move forward in my career. 

It's the People of USask who enable us to be what the world needs.  

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