Meet Hayley Carroll: the 2022 Carrie and Ralph Wright Memorial Scholarship Recipient

Meet Hayley Carroll: the 2022 Carrie and Ralph Wright Memorial Scholarship Recipient

When Hayley Carroll’s grade 8 teacher told her she was meant to be a journalist, the Carleton Place, Ont. native vehemently rejected the idea. A long-time lover of stories, Carroll always assumed her future career would involve writing or editing–just not in a newsroom. Now, as a student in one of the country’s top journalism programs, she laughs, reflecting on her 13-year-old self, who was so against it.

“I loved Gilmore Girls and I was always comparing myself to Rory,” she explains. “Rory goes and becomes a journalist and that’s her dream. Then her life (went) very poorly for quite a while, and I was like, ‘No! I don’t want that to be me.'”

Exposure to podcasts like CBC’s Missing and Murdered in high school eventually piqued Carroll’s interest in investigative storytelling.

“I want to be able to go seek out really meaningful stories that have a small focus, (but whose) discoveries can be enormous and really groundbreaking,” she says. “That really appeals to me–just being able to use my writing and my work to make a difference in the world and have a greater impact.”

Carroll is this year’s Carrie and Ralph Wright Memorial Scholarship recipient. Established in 2019 through a generous gift from the estate of alum Judith Kaye Wright, BA’64, the award honours Wright’s parents and is given to an incoming Foundation Year student. It has a potential value of $39,000 over four years.

Carroll almost didn’t pick up the phone when King’s called because she didn’t recognize the number. She was speechless when she realized it was the university’s vice president on the other end.

“I tried to maintain my cool. I think I said, ‘Oh, that’s awesome. Thank you.’ And not much else,” she says. “Then I got off the phone, did some jumping around, ran upstairs to my sister’s room and told her. She sat in bed, and I jumped around some more.”

Carroll says the only person more excited than herself was her mom. “She screamed! It was a good moment,” Carroll recalls, laughing. “She went for a walk (after), and on that walk, she bumped into three or four people she knew and told them all … And I was like, OK, everybody knows. It was an exciting day.”

When she began searching for a journalism program, a few things made King’s stand out–most importantly, it wasn’t downtown Toronto. Growing up in a small community, Carroll says she was looking for something more low-key. She was also attracted to the Foundation Year Program (FYP) as well as the school’s theatrical traditions and its location near the ocean. One month in, she says she’s adjusting to life in Halifax and already falling for the east coast.

“Coming from a smaller town, it feels like a big city. I had to wait in line for half an hour at a Tim Hortons, and that was a shock. I’m not used to that,” she laughs. “But I am enjoying it. I love walking down by the waterfront and seeing the city. It’s a really, really beautiful place.”

When asked about her long-term goals, Carroll says she’s still finding her footing but is looking forward to the journalism internship that will be part of her final year and hopes to work for a major news outlet eventually.

Carroll says she usually feels more comfortable working behind the scenes and often volunteered for administrative tasks while on her high school’s student council. But she’s enjoying how journalism is already increasing her confidence. She had just completed her first street interviews, and while it was intimidating to approach strangers initially, she said those first successful interactions were exciting.

“I’m not great at going out of my comfort zone and having a conversation with someone I don’t know. I think that was one of the things I’m working on: becoming more comfortable interacting one-on-one with strangers,” she says.

Those skills will come with time, but for now, she is just soaking in all the incredible experiences that come with being a first-year student.

“We had a Taylor Swift dance party on campus last Friday, and that was possibly my favourite night here so far.”

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