Micah Leonida

Micah Leonida - Honors student

Name: Micah Leonida


BA (Combined) Honors - French Language and Literature, and Political Science
Certificate in Translation Studies

If you were a superhero, who would it be?/If you had a super power, what would it be?

I would be the Filipino version of Kamala Khan. She's a fictional Muslim-American superhero that's part of the Marvel Comics franchise. She basically kicks super villain butt while promoting diversity, and empowering women of colour. She's a super feminist. I want to be a super feminist with super powers. That's what I actually want to be when I grow up.

What spurred you on to be an Honors student in the department?

I originally didn't want anything to do with the honors program. I thought it would be too challenging for me. However, with some encouragement from a handful of key professors, and with a lot of consultation with my undergraduate advisors I finally decided to take the plunge. I ultimately decided to pursue an honors degree because I wanted to conduct my own research and really immerse myself in my areas of interest. I wanted to know more about research and how to do it. I also wanted to contribute my own thoughts and arguments to a growing body of literature about Francophone comics, women of colour and gender representations. I think I've achieved what I set out to do.

What is the best thing about being an Honors student in the department of MLCS?

The professors are really there to support you, and they honestly care about what you're doing. They take you and your project seriously. I think this is important because it makes you want to do better. The encouragement and honest interest makes you feel like what you're doing is important. I also like the sense of community and support that the MLCS department gives you. They do their best to encourage future ventures too. I've attended two events catered to students interested in pursuing graduate degrees. At these events, I met many professors and other graduate students who gave me such priceless advice and insight.

Cause(s) you care about

I care about many things. On a macro-level, I care about gender and politics, but specifically about the experiences and representations of women of colour. Women of colour are often reduced to stereotypes, and are harmfully essentialized. It is important to acknowledge and understand diversity, to interrogate norms, and to challenge preconceived ideas about "the woman of colour" experience (whatever that means). Women are more than just gender, than sexuality, than motherhood, etc. We are equals that deserve to be looked at through an intersectional lens.

Tell us about a topic you are excited to do research about (e.g., your current Honors thesis)

I am currently in the process of finishing up my research which seeks to answer the following question: How are the experiences of women of colour represented in mainstream French autobiographical comics (la bande dessinée)? To what extent have these narratives been linguistically and visually filtered for the Francophone market?

Women, let alone women of colour, have been benched and left on the sidelines in the Franco-Belgian comics industry for so long. This industry was predominantly inhabited and controlled by men, European and caucasian men to be exact. Their experiences, their thoughts, and their narratives populated much of what was being published. It is only in the last twenty years or so that women have actually begun to take their rightful places in the Franco-Belgian comics industry. I wanted to write about these women and create spaces where their work can be celebrated and/or critiqued too.

Any (survival) tip(s) you would like to share with fresh MLCS Honors students?

At this point in my undergraduate degree I think I could write a novel about survival tips. However, I'll limit it to one thing: Make use of the people and opportunities around you. University is going to be challenging regardless of how prepared you think you are. You'll have a better experience if you get to know your professors, teaching assistants, and other students (graduate or undergraduate).They are invaluable resources. For one, your professors and teaching assistants are experienced. Believe it or not, they're not just intimidating academics at the front of your class. They can help you think through your thoughts, and provide research opportunities outside of the classroom. For example, my own thesis supervisor sent me a bunch of information about conferences and lectures relating to my project. I would have never discovered these events on my own without my supervisor's help. On the other hand, your classmates (especially if you end up taking the same classes) know what you're studying and what you're interested in. I've sent so many drafts to my classmates for peer reviews and edits. Their feedback and comments have strengthened my research. In short, be open to those around you and don't be afraid to get to know the entire department if you have to!

The first thing you plan do after graduating.

Almost immediately after my last final exam, I'm flying out to Seoul, South Korea for two weeks. I've spent so much time learning about other cultures. Now that I actually have the opportunity to travel (yay, no more spring classes), I thought that I'd actually go out and experience culture for myself. You might ask, "Why Seoul, South Korea?" and my response to that is "Why not?" It's a thriving cosmopolitan city that juxtaposes Edmonton's laid back lifestyle. It will be a new experience.

After that, I plan to take a year off to work and re-evaluate who I want to be, and what I want to do. There are so many opportunities out there. I just want to know what's available to me. In the longterm, I see myself going back to school to further my own research interests.