King’s student finds journalism assignments connect her to her new community

King’s student finds journalism assignments connect her to her new community

Bayleigh Marelj, a second-year journalism (honours) student at King’s, says she left her home in Nanoose Bay, B.C., last year on a hunch she’d like King’s and Halifax. The Foundation Year Program (FYP) interested her and she was curious about journalism. The application included the question, “Why do you want to be a journalist?”

“I convinced myself while writing the essay,” Bayleigh says with a laugh.

Journalism student Bayleigh Marelj.

Her favourite things about FYP were studying Persuasion by Jane Austen, pulling her FYP essay marks up from a C to an A (“that sense of accomplishment was really amazing”) and the relationships she formed with her classmates and tutors.

“I think it was really cool how personalized it (FYP) was,” Bayleigh says. “Your tutors are constantly giving you feedback.” Her tutorial group competed in a FYP-tionary (“like Pictionary but with FYP texts”) tournament to mark the year’s end and Bayleigh’s team was victorious. “I answered the winning question so that’s always a point of pride for me.”

Bayleigh also discovered how much she thoroughly enjoyed journalism in her first-year Foundations of Journalism class.

“You build your skill a lot in journalism. So for the first assignment what you had to do was go out into Halifax—all the assignments were off-campus—to go sit and observe someone and describe it without making any assumptions. I observed this man who was sleeping on a bench but I couldn’t say that he was homeless, because I had no idea, I could only describe him. And you learn so much about your personal bias.”

Bayleigh quickly made friends with her residence roommate and the classmates with whom she partnered. “I think what I’ve learned with journalism is it’s a really excellent way to connect to a community that you’re not originally from. You learn a lot in a very short period of time.”

Bayleigh also volunteered at CKDU, the non-profit radio station broadcasting from neighbouring Dalhousie University’s campus. “I hosted and coordinated the LGBTQ Collective radio program on CKDU. I learned a lot about producing and organizing radio shows as well as getting interviews. The neat thing was how often things I was doing at CKDU I had learned to do in journalism class the week before.”

Some of her favourite Halifax haunts include the Central Library with its glassed-in reading room, and the Halifax waterfront, where one late night at the end of first year she stood eating poutine with her King’s friends near the Wave sculpture reflecting on how her life had changed since she came to King’s. “The wind was coming and it was just a very cinematic moment…that was really cool. There’s a really big opportunity for friendship here; it’s really easy to meet people.”

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