As a kid growing up on the outskirts of suburban Toronto, I dreamed of several careers: writer, lawyer, Olympic gold medal-winning 100m sprinter, Broadway dancing cat (blame Cats, which I saw at six: I knew they were actors, but I also thought they might be actual dancing cats). I wrote constantly—daily diary entries, short stories about cat adventures, longer stories about clever girls who solved crimes—so by the time I got to high school, I was pretty set on becoming a writer of some sort. I had a few amazing English teachers and one wacky Writer’s Craft teacher who encouraged me, not only by giving me great grades, but by showing me how to be better and encouraging me when I said writing was my future.
After graduation, I applied and was accepted to Concordia University’s Creative Writing program and I planned to focus on writing fiction. But, due to some missed mail regarding registration deadlines and general frosh ignorance about how university actually worked, I didn’t end up taking any writing classes (it was a stupid mistake, but it put me on the path towards the career I have today). I transferred to Queen’s University and settled into an English degree with a minor in History and a helping of Philosophy. Cue three and half years of writing overload. Which I LOVED. The competitive academic atmosphere drove me to do better and work harder every day.
University challenged me in a way that high school never did. I had to learn how to learn, to ask questions, to investigate and research new ideas on my own, to prove that what I thought was valid and had merit. Those are skills I’ve used throughout my 10-year career as a writer, editor and digital media producer. In my third year I began writing for the school paper, the Queen’s Journal, as an arts and entertainment reporter (and won the journalism award that year, about which I am still oddly proud 13 years later). In fourth year I applied for and won the job of assistant arts and entertainment editor, a role that taught me how to hit a deadline and to write and work faster than I thought possible. We put out two full issues a week and the “Journal House” became my second home. (Coincidentally, that’s where I met and befriended FLARE managing editor Maureen Halushak, who was my first editor at the Journal.)
Once I graduated, I landed an internship at Fashion and followed that with a return to school. My internship experience was integral to my career for many reasons, but most importantly because it taught me that I thrived on hands-on learning. I completed the Continuing Education Certificate in Magazine Publishing at Ryerson University, a program that employed people working in the industry as professors. I began freelance writing for various publications and eventually started an internship at Chatelaine.com, where I worked my way up to senior online editor. A bit of travel, another freelance stint, a role at Shaw Media working as an online producer for HGTV, Food Network and Slice, a year spent in public relations and here I am, back at Rogers as managing editor of FLARE.com.
When people ask me how I got to be where I am today, there’s only one thing I can say: Education and a love of learning. The combination of the encouragement I received in high school, the academic focus and newspaper training I gained at Queen’s and the real world experience I soaked up as an intern and a Ryerson student is a powerful bit of educational chemistry. I recommend that every young person strives to get the education that will allow them to realize their dreams. Find out who has the job you want and ask how they got there. Take on internships. Challenge yourself. Work hard (and sometimes for free). Never stop learning.
About Rogers Youth Education Day
Celebrate Rogers Youth Education Day on Wednesday, September 25 and show youth that education is important. Tweet with the #BrighterFuture hashtag on Twitter to help. For every tweet with the hashtag, we’ll donate $1 toward the purchase of a mobile tech unit (to a maximum of $250,000) to be given to partners for youth education purposes.
The goal of RYED is to get each one of our 52 partners across the country a mobile tech unit. A mobile tech unit will provide mobile internet technology to Rogers Youth Fund participants who wouldn’t otherwise have internet access outside of school, giving them the ability to access information and get help with school work outside of the classroom. Each unit contains 5 tablets, a Rogers Rocket Mobile Hotspot and LTE connectivity provided by Rogers.
Join the conversation, and help give our youth a #BrighterFuture.