BA '11, PhD ’20
Yvonne Su is an interdisciplinary scholar with a passion for civic engagement. She completed her BA in International Development at the University of Guelph in 2011. After completing her Masters in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies on a Mackenzie King Scholarship at the University of Oxford, Yvonne returned to Guelph to complete her PhD in Political Science and International Development. Over this time, she has harnessed her leadership, influence, energy, and creativity, to engage youth and affect positive change around the world.
In her undergrad, Yvonne co-founded the Vote Mob movement, which inspired 45 Vote Mobs across Canada leading up to the 2011 Federal Election. Her work was praised by political satirist Rick Mercer, who described her as “whip-smart, involved, passionate, [and] articulate” in his book, A Nation Worth Ranting About. She also co-founded the non-profit organization Vote Savvy, creating a network of over 20 Vote Campuses and launching a series of viral videos that challenged youth to take voting into their own hands in the 2015 federal election.
Last year, Yvonne was part of a team that won a $460,000 Canadian Heritage grant to develop a digital citizenship program entitled, “Let’s Talk Digital” to educate youth on disinformation and civic engagement in the lead up to the 2019 federal election. The program was run in 40 Boys and Girls Clubs across 9 provinces, reaching over 5,000 youth. She was also a board member of Future Majority, a national non-profit committed to amplifying the concerns of young Canadians. In 2019, they mobilized over 26,000 young Canadians to vote in critical races nationwide. In total, Yvonne’s initiatives have engaged over a million Canadians in building a stronger democracy and there is no doubt Yvonne has already had a tremendous impact on Canadian politics.
In addition to her passion for youth engagement, Yvonne is also deeply committed to issues of social justice and climate justice. In 2008, Yvonne participated in the Walk for Darfur, a 278km walk from Calgary to Edmonton to raise awareness about the genocide and raise funds for War Child’s refugee program. In 2009, she co-founded “Spread Trees, Not AIDS”, an educational campaign on HIV prevention and environmental leadership that was run in three rural South African townships. In the same year, she also represented Canadian youth at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. Angered by the representation of the Arctic as just a piece of melting ice by politicians at the conference, Yvonne travelled to Greenland to conduct research for her fourth year thesis on the impact of climate change on the people of Greenland. Yvonne is also committed to improving health equity for newcomers and volunteers as an academic advisor for Access Alliance, a multicultural health and community centre.
As a researcher, Yvonne has focused on post-disaster recovery, climate refugees and global migration. Based on seven months of fieldwork in the Philippines, her PhD dissertation examined how households access and mobilize remittances for post-disaster recovery after Typhoon Haiyan.
Academically, Yvonne is a well-published and well-funded researcher. Having only recently completed her PhD, Yvonne already has 10 journal articles and over $700,000 of external research funding. In addition, she has presented her work at over 20 national and international conferences and she is the winner of over 25 scholarships and awards, including the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Graduate Scholarship, the International Development Research Centre’s Doctoral Research Award, Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 Award and the Young Women of Distinction Award.
Yvonne’s accomplishments are outstanding and the University of Guelph is proud to call her an alumna.