Guest Column: MRU grad recalls ‘aha’ moments
Getting through university is a lot like trying to write the perfect conclusion to an exhausting essay.
You hammer away, sometimes making great progress and sometimes only repeating yourself. There are fleeting “aha” moments when you wish you could go back in time and change things, but realize, exhausted, that you can only move forward.
You’re likely to consider liquor as a learning aid, but it rarely proves helpful academically.
Then, when you’ve finally finished, it takes a moment of pause to realize the magnitude of what you’ve accomplished.
Looking back five years to when I began attending Mount Royal (then-) College, I realize that not only my life but the entire world was a different place back then. Economies around the world were humming happily along, enticing kids straight out of high school and into high-paying jobs.
I had strong grades, but no idea how to translate that into a career, or even an unpaved career path.
So my first year at MRU was a post-secondary taste test pushed on me by my mother, who warned me that a gap year spent working in a smoothie shop would do me no good.
I had my writing chops busted by one instructor and my brain massaged by another that year.
Year two of studies was year one of journalism, which I’d chosen thanks to an unshakable case of excellent grammar I’d picked up in elementary school. I spent a lot of time researching essays and passing judgment on people who asked our instructors stupid questions. (I got over one of those before graduation.)
Second-year journalism commenced with me continually asking myself why the hell did I ever think I could be a reporter when I was horrified by the prospect of phoning for pizza, let alone calling an alderman?
(Drunk dialing is not conducive to good reporting nor to good grades. I did figure that out before ever terrorizing the touchtone; classmates were always willing to share tips over pints at the dearly departed Liberty Lounge.)
Third-year journalism, in review, was a career maker. Tasked with being an editor for the journalism program’s newspaper, I told my professor I’d take charge of the paper’s life section. She replied that I could head up the news pages. I raised my eyebrows and thought, “oh no.”
But then I learned that I liked the news, even if it meant spending three hours at city council learning the status of a graffiti removal pilot project.
That professor-imposed editing job led to my first experience at the Reflector as news editor and I don’t have nearly enough room to explain how that job, and my role as publishing editor ignited my love of journalism.
Fourth-year journalism was a culmination of everything that had happened up to that point: failures and restarts of a mountainous assignment and the incomparable support of friends and professors.
Now that I’m a university graduate, a new reality has set in: the Government of Alberta sent me a loan document that reminds I can no longer think of my home province as the cool aunt who paid my tuition. Now Alberta is the cruel mother-in-law who always wants more out of me.
But chipping away at that student loan isn’t going to be so bad, because I got my money’s worth.
Zoey Duncan is a graduate of the Communication — Journalism program at MRU and a former publishing editor of The Reflector.