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Physics PhD graduate awarded TMU Gold Medal for perseverance and unwavering dedication to the community

Fateen Basharat looks back at her academic journey as an immigrant woman and first-generation PhD graduate
October 25, 2023
Fateen Basharat holding gold medal beside President Lachemi

Physics PhD graduate Fateen Basharat has emerged as a shining star in the Faculty of Science. Throughout her studies, her dedication to the community and academia in the face of adversity has earned her the prestigious TMU Gold Medal upon graduating this fall.

Basharat first began her journey as an international student from Bangladesh. Over the course of her PhD, Basharat demonstrated extraordinary commitment to the science community at TMU. She served as the graduate student representative for the Faculty of Science Faculty Council, president of events for the Physics Graduate Student Union and co-founder of the Women in Physics club. Beyond the university campus, she contributed her time to the Imaging Network of Ontario Student Committee and the Canadian Organization of Medical Physicists Women's Committee.

In addition to community involvement, her academic excellence is evident in her achievements. This year, a paper (external link)  Basharat co-authored alongside principal investigator professor Jesse Tanguay received the prestigious Sylvia Fedoruk Prize (external link)  for the best publication in the field of medical physics in Canada. This marks the second occasion in the past three years that TMU students and their supervisors have been honoured with the prize.

Basharat’s academic journey and contributions to the community are a testament to what you can achieve through hard work and perseverance. Read about her journey at TMU:

What does receiving the gold medal mean to you?

Receiving the gold medal is a humbling experience. It reminds me that the countless sleepless nights spent working on course assignments and research work, the persistence through various obstacles and the commitment to my goals have not gone unnoticed. 

When I started my academic journey at TMU in 2018 as an international student, I could hardly have imagined becoming the recipient of this award. As an immigrant woman, I faced additional challenges, including adapting to a different education system and integrating into Canadian culture, which was a significant challenge in itself. 

As I reached the culmination of my PhD, I was juggling my academic responsibilities and personal commitments. It was a period of intense effort and dedication. This gold medal represents the triumph over adversity and the realization that with perseverance, even the most ambitious dream can be fulfilled. I am truly humbled and honoured! 

What has been your proudest accomplishment at TMU?

Receiving this prestigious Gold Medal is undoubtedly a highlight of my PhD journey at TMU. As the first person in my family to pursue a PhD, this milestone holds great significance to me. Additionally, being awarded the NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarship, the Ontario Graduate Scholarship, and the Mitacs Research Training Award are accomplishments that I cherish. 

Furthermore, while serving as a graduate assistant, it was a rewarding experience to witness my students’ growth, knowing that I have contributed to their education. 

Beyond these individual accomplishments, one of my proudest achievements has been the connections and friendships made at TMU. Those relationships have enriched my academic journey and established a network of support that will continue to be with me throughout my career.

What advice do you have for current and future students?

My advice to current and future students is to work hard and stay committed to your goals. In the journey of academia, you will face challenges and frustrating moments. It is crucial not to let these obstacles be discouraging factors. Medical physics, like many fields, requires dedication and passion. 

Additionally, make full use of the available resources at TMU and take advantage of opportunities to improve your skills. Approach faculty members, your TAs and your peers whenever you need assistance.  

Furthermore, explore the offerings from the Graduate Leadership Institute, take part in professional development workshops provided by Student Life and Learning Support, and if you are an international student, make use of available resources offered by the International Student Support team. These resources provide valuable insights and additional skills that will benefit your professional and academic growth. 

What are your future plans? How has TMU prepared you for your future?

I want to make a meaningful impact on cancer treatment and care. My current position as a physics resident at the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario (CCSEO) is a significant step toward my ultimate goal of becoming a board-certified medical physicist. The CAMPEP courses at TMU and the hands-on research experiences during my time at Dr. Jesse Tanguay’s lab were instrumental in preparing me to excel in my residency. 

The Graduate Teaching Development Program has been invaluable in enhancing my teaching skills and ability to communicate complex information effectively, which will be a crucial asset in my career. The workshops and personal sessions with the Graduate Leadership Institute have helped me develop the necessary leadership skills, a must-have in a field as dynamic and multidisciplinary as medical physics. 

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