, Sarnia, Ont.
Looking back at it, I don’t know how I ended up at Queen’s. I was just really lucky.
I’m one of six kids. My father walked out on us when I was nine. We were stuck in a house in the middle of nowhere with no heat and we had to melt snow for water. We were on welfare and we used food banks, and we couldn’t afford indoor shoes.
In high school, the guidance counsellor said my grades were good enough to go to university, so I picked a few at random. No one in my family had gone to university. When I got Queen’s, I decided I would major in English because I loved books so much.
When I was in first year, I stumbled across the Facebook page for the Queen’s Journal. I wondered if I could do it – I wondered sometimes if I belonged at Queen’s at all – but I made myself volunteer, and they liked what I wrote. Those little morsels of encouragement inspired me, and I wrote more and more. I also started to take creative writing classes with Carolyn Smart.
This year I’m the Journal’s news editor. It’s a paid position, so it’s helping me make my own way. And I won the McIlquham Foundation Prize in English for a story I wrote for class last year.
I didn’t expect to win. Then I won the Helen Richards Campbell Memorial Scholarship for getting the top grade in creative writing. I also got to intern at the Kingston Whig-Standard last summer, and I really enjoyed that. For the first years here I depended on OSAP (there was no way my mum could ever pay), but now I am completely set up for money. What a change.
I started off this heartbroken little kid in a rundown house, and 10 years later I’m at Queen’s discovering my passion. I have a good job and I’m part of a great community of people. Without Queen’s, I have would not have found the Journal or started doing creative writing.
Next year, I would love to run for editor in chief of the Journal, but that’s an elected post so whether I get it isn’t up to me. After that, I’m really interested in doing social justice reporting. I want to tell the stories of impoverished people, people who grew in situations like mine. That’s what I’d love to get into.