A Sense of Security: How Yagana Samim wants to change the industry, one perception at a time
Public and private investigations graduate Yagana Samim may be an academic through and through, but she’s got a practical goal in mind: developing a program to tackle microaggressions through education on a large-scale organizational level.
“Personally, I view education as a huge luxury,” says Samim. “I know that had I stayed in some of the more war-torn areas that my family had come from, I would not have had those opportunities. So, even being able to access education at a reasonable price, I can’t turn down that opportunity.”
Born in Afghanistan, Samim’s family moved frequently, from Pakistan to Turkmenistan to India, then to Halifax, Winnipeg and finally, Mississauga when Samim was in Grade 5. Later on, as the end of high school approached, she made a list of dream careers, and one of the top entries was the career of investigator. “I’m naturally a very snoopy person and I figured if you’re good at it, you should get paid for doing it,” she laughs, crediting the television show Veronica Mars for setting her on this path. “Obviously, I knew it was a very romanticized and glamourized version of what happens when you become a private investigator, but I thought, ‘I could do that if I set my mind to it.’ ”
Attracted to Sheridan’s reputation in the investigative field, Samim found guidance from Professors Gary Galbraith, who “was always ready to sit down and discuss realistic options for the future,”and Danielle Weddepohl, who helped with Samim’s later pathway to university.
During Samim’s co-op position at Trillium Health Partners, where she shadowed security guards in the course of de-escalating violent incidents and other efforts, she became interested in ways to increase organizational security. “I thought of it not only on a direct level in terms of threat, but also in terms of increasing tolerance in ways that people might not even realize, because that’s a huge part of organizational security — increasing morale and making sure that everybody feels comfortable and safe,” she says.
Samim started to develop the idea of working with the security sector and police force to provide a microaggressions training program. “Microaggressions are things like subtle words and actions that we commit which create a culture of everyday racism, sexism and homophobia,” she says. “This is one angle to impact things from if we want to increase better social relations. The hospital security sector attracts people of privilege, because it is a position of power. We try to increase diversity, but something that will increase overall tolerance all around is microaggressions training.”
Samim is currently in the research-collection phase during her second year of a sociology and women and gender studies double major at the University of Toronto. Based on her research at Sheridan during a self-guided project for her program, Samim has pitched her idea to the Trillium Health partners and also the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS).
She has plans to further her education with a master’s degree upon completing her undergraduate studies, and will be looking to put her training into hands-on work as an investigator, as well as continuing to develop her microaggressions training program.
“It’s something that probably won’t be ready for a long time, requiring legislation and industry involvement,” she says. “This is a long-term career goal.”
Nevertheless, Samim isn’t daunted by the challenge. She remembers the lesson her Sheridan Field Practicum Professor, Karyn Carty, taught: that the first step to becoming a professional is believing that you’re a professional. “I wake up every morning, think back to that moment at Sheridan and tell myself, if you think if you’re going to be a success, you will be a success,” says Samim. “In my endeavours now, there’s no option for failure. I really believe that if you want to be something, you just have to say that you are that thing, and everything else will follow.”
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