“Tell me about yourself.”
An ambiguous statement that I’m never quite sure how to answer. Do you mean who I am in this moment specifically, or one of the many people I’ve been over the years? One certainly informs the other, but it’s a tale that cannot be confined to 600 words.
I grew up in Listowel — now colloquially known as Letterkenny thanks to the popularity of local hero Jared Keeso’s TV show — a quaint rural community north of Waterloo. It was a place I never felt like I fit, so, in 2008, I took my fauxhawk and paper-clip earrings and promptly moved away. I went to j-school at Loyalist College in Belleville — around 30 of us started that year, and only nine graduated. We were the last cohort to make it through the rigorous print journalism program before it was scrapped, and by the time we stepped into the “real world,” newsrooms were downsizing across the country. I interned at the Chronicle Herald in Halifax, then decided to ride out the recession by getting my BA in English and art history at Carleton University.
My first journo gig was at the Wellington Advertiser in Fergus, where I learned a lot about agriculture and municipal politics. Google “fluffy cow” — you won’t be disappointed.
After a hangover-induced existential crisis on New Year’s Day 2015, I decided to take a job at Northern News Services in Yellowknife, NT. My first day on the job, I was assigned a science story about how water contamination was changing the size of reproductive organs in male ninespine sticklebacks. I went back to my hotel room that night and bawled, wondering if I had made a huge mistake. Yellowknife in February is not for the faint of heart.
Quite a few jokes were made at my expense when the stickleback story finally went to print. (Spoiler alert: The reproductive organs increased in size.) But it got me over the fear of writing about unfamiliar topics. Soon after they made me the business editor, and I spent the rest of my time up North writing about resource development.
Since then, I have primarily worked in education, as a literacy and basic skills practitioner and copy editor for a curriculum development project. The role of Executive Editor with Imprint feels like a natural next step, combining both of these career streams.
Today, I am a single mom and life-long student. I enjoy alternative pop, a good IPA, and interpreting friends’ natal charts. Like a true journalist, I know a little bit about a lot of things and prefer to ask the questions, not answer them.
I believe storytelling should be a vehicle for growth — to help us learn about ourselves, understand history, and develop empathy for others. Too often, we forget to mind the gap between where we are and where we’d like to be. We neglect to celebrate how we got from there to here because it doesn’t seem all that remarkable. But real life happens in the nitty gritty — the ‘flex’ culture of social media only serves to hide the vulnerabilities that make us human and thereby make us ashamed of them. By sharing our stories of trial and error, mistakes and moments of self-doubt, we remind each other that life ebbs and flows in cycles. Small wins lead to big victories. Asking questions leads to new perspectives. Honesty leads to true connection.
In some ways, journalism has moved away from truth-telling and survived by fostering disparity and sensation. Though we may not see print newspapers around much longer, the tradition of telling stories will always be a source of real connection in an increasingly divided world. This is my goal as the new Executive Editor at Imprint — to create a community of authenticity, a space to share the perfectly imperfect stories of UW’s students in a way that supports and uplifts.
I look forward to continuing the conversation with all of you.