ASPA Member Highlight – Megan Fillatre, International Research Specialist, International Office

Written by Karen E. Mosier

Megan Fillatre joined the University of Saskatchewan in 2015 as an international student recruitment and liaison officer and moved to the International Office in 2016.

“This is where I truly found a passion,” says Megan. “Knowing that I am a small piece of the puzzle in an organization that advances and supports global academic and research opportunities and that what I do has purpose, drives me forward.”

As an International Research Specialist, Megan supports faculty members across campus with research and project proposals that have a significant international component. Her primary role is in international research facilitation, development and administration on the pre-award side of research grants and projects. She works closely with researchers on campus and global partners to help increase their research and grant successes. Megan helps with grant reviews and provides feedback on proposals, facilitates matchmaking of diverse teams on international funding calls, conducts compliance checks to ensure proposals are within funder and university guidelines, and co-manages internal funding opportunities, in the form of international project grants and travel awards. The latter are an initiative under the university’s International Blueprint for Action 2025 (link).  

One of Megan’s most visible projects is the annual People Around the World (PAW) conference (link) which she leads and co-chairs with colleagues from the international office and a committee of 10-20 representatives from across campus. Going into its fifth year, the PAW conference is another initiative under the International Blueprint for Action 2025 to advance the university’s internationalization priorities in the areas of global research, sustainable partnerships, and international community well-being with partners around the world.

“Even with the added challenge of the pandemic, we hosted our largest attended conference yet,” says Megan. “Despite our inability to travel, the gathering was more ‘international’ than ever because the online environment allowed multinational research teams and speakers to collaborate and present together.” PAW 2021 focused on ‘Global to local for the goals: Harnessing the power of collaboration to re-emerge stronger and together’ (link).

Megan has been passionate about languages, intercultural studies and global learning from a young age. In high school, she went on a year-long student exchange to Sinaloa, Mexico—an experience that influenced her decision to pursue a BA in International Studies and Hispanic Studies at York University (Glendon) and earn a bilingual certificate in English and French. During her undergraduate degree, she travelled abroad every summer either on a student exchange program, work internship or just to fill her love of exploration and languages. She loves being a part of an educational institution that supports students, faculty members and staff in taking part in extraordinary global opportunities. Her undergraduate studies taught her many soft skills including critical thinking, problem solving, writing, reviewing, interpersonal, intercultural and language skills (she’s fluent in French and Spanish), as well as networking skills to work with global partners. More recently, propelled by her role in research and international education, Megan completed her Master’s degree in Educational Administration at the University of Saskatchewan in 2019 with a focus on internationalization in higher education.

“This is what I value about working in higher education: we are a university that embraces lifelong and inclusive learning,” says Megan. “Where else could you pursue graduate studies while working full time and looking after a young family? Coming from Ontario, I have appreciated the positive and inclusive learning environment on campus. USask has become my home away from home.”

“I love my job,” she adds. “I enjoy collaborating with my colleagues and superstar teammates in the International Office and working with faculty members and their international partners, learning about global research and the projects they are developing.”

She says her job is different every day as each international grant is unique to the funder or country where it is taking place—there is always something new to learn about a discipline or different parts of the world. She stresses that the university’s investment in international funding through its commitments in the International Blueprint for Action 2025 is critical to our researchers’ success and their ability to collaborate at the global level. She adds, “Through this strategy, the university is putting the infrastructure and mechanisms in place so these types of initiatives can continue to move forward.”

Megan’s dedication to internationalization, global learning and collaborative research motivates her to do her best in her job. While the international funding landscape can be challenging with complex guidelines, pressures and tight deadlines, she says it is very rewarding and motivating when she receives notice that a grant application has been successfully funded. “The challenges that we face in the 21st century cannot be solved by one researcher, one university nor one country. The pandemic and global health crisis we are currently facing is a prime example of this.”

Megan has been an ASPA member since she joined USask six years ago and notes the support and advocacy that is provided to ASPA members, including to working mothers and women on campus. Top of mind were the ASPA tuition waiver utilized when she pursued her graduate studies and, most recently, the option to use APDA funds towards work-from-home equipment.

“We have a fantastic association that is inclusive and supportive of your professional goals,” says Megan when asked about her advice to ASPA members. “Find out about the many benefits available to you as an ASPA member. Get involved and get to know your colleagues as it is such a great community to be a part of.”

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