“One of the biggest challenges is to establish credibility as a young person working in businesses that often have a lot of older people, making a name for yourself and showing what you are capable of doing.”

Coming out of high school, I took some years off and I did some blue collar jobs like landscaping and working in warehouses in the winter time.

I had some encouragement from my inner circle and my co-workers, saying “Do you want to carry bricks all day, you are going to go to school right?” I was lucky because some of the people I worked with had some experience with post-secondary.

I wanted to go back to school. I spent some years doing the open studies program at Mount Royal University and an opportunity opened up to get into a degree program based off my work in open studies and I chose journalism.

I had taken a lot of business courses in my open studies program and I thought that was what I wanted to do.

My girlfriend at the time said, “You know, all you talk about is communications, are you sure you do not want to look into that line?” I agreed and I fell head over heels for journalism. From the minute I started,  I was fully immersed in it.

I started by running the Reflector on campus and I was the publishing editor for that. It was a big year for Mount Royal University and there were all sorts of stories that year.

Shortly after that, I started working for the Chestermere Anchor and doing community news that way.

Before too long, I was working for the Calgary Herald and I wore all these hats while in university so I was really fortunate to be at a university that allowed me to do that.

The first time I feel like I really made it was when I got on the Calgary Herald. When I started there, they hired me to be an executive assistant and my job was to answer the phones and do the crosswords. Within a month of having that job, I was already up reporting and they had never seen that before.

One of my first big stories was a triple murder suicide. I had been sent by the Herald to spend some time in the hospital and try to talk to the family.  I had made contact with the family earlier and they did not want to speak with me and I said “Okay, I have to stay here, because that is what my editors told me so I will be down in the lobby.”

“I feel like I really made it was when I got on the Calgary Herald.” 

Finally, they were willing to talk. It was a tough story to tell and I did my best to treat it with compassion and respect.

The turning point for me was when I walked into the newsroom and every single person looked at me as I walked into the door. People came over and said “Amazing job,” “I heard you got the story,” “Wow, nobody else has a story.” Even the RCMP did not have the story at that point.

I moved to Metro News in Calgary , and lots of people asked me “Why would you go to Metro, why would you go down to a publication with less circulation, less profile and history in the city?” It was because Metro was growing.

They were the young hungry paper and at Metro, I had the unlimited latitude to find whatever stories I wanted to report on and it was cool to be the underdog again. I did that for as long as I could and I decided to go in a different direction.

I started looking at communications jobs for a while and one opened at Mount Royal University. I started there as a communications officer.

Shortly after that, I got promoted to media relations officer and then I got moved up to a senior media relations officer.

For three years, I was a senior media relations officer and the job involves everything from really happy news that we are trying to share to being ready to respond in the toughest of times.

I work as a senior advisor to the provost now. I work with the provost and president’s office. I am expected to initiate action on behalf of the provost and ensure initiatives are implemented by those accountable.

I have a strong connection with this institution so I certainly see myself here moving forward in whatever role that may be.

Things happen quickly when you work hard. I really believe in the value of hardwork and my success is all based on hard work.

As told to Mariam Taiwo. This interview has been edited and condensed.

mtaiwo@cjournal.ca

Editor: Logan Peters | lpeters@cjournal.ca