Master of journalism students Angela Mombourquette and Geoff Davies (BJH ’10) have been awarded the recently introduced $10,000 Innovation Graduate Scholarships for the 2014/2015 academic year. The award is part of the Government of Nova Scotia’s newly prioritized area of social innovation, under which the MJ in New Ventures stream qualifies.
According to the Labour and Advanced Education Department, the provincial government, in collaboration with the Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents, plans to award 120 Innovation Graduate Scholarships to both masters and doctoral students enrolled at Nova Scotia universities during this academic year. The intention is to fund 310 annually as the program is gradually phased in over the next four years.
The scholarship was brokered by King’s Vice President Kim Kierans in collaboration with Dalhousie’s Faculty of Graduate Studies. Both students were selected for their outstanding academic achievement and their keenness to pursue projects deemed valuable to the Nova Scotia community.
Don Sedgwick is the executive director of the King’s master of fine arts in creative nonfiction and a teacher in the New Ventures stream. All journalism faculty members were invited to nominate candidates for the scholarships.
“I am absolutely delighted that these scholarships are available, and equally delighted to have two of them be awarded to King’s graduate students,” says Sedgwick. “This is exactly the kind of incentive we collectively need in order to attract talented students to graduate programs. I am confident we will see these students produce excellent projects and demonstrate innovation at its highest level.”
Davies and Mombourquette are both in the midst of developing entrepreneurial projects as part of the New Ventures stream. This stream of the MJ was designed to help journalism students discover new ways of using their skills in an increasingly digital world and it also includes an overlay of business instruction.
“Ultimately, we want them to become journalist entrepreneurs,” says Sedgwick. “In fact, for the first time, the King’s MJ New Ventures students will actually take a course in the Dal MBA program this fall.”
The business aspect was a definite draw for both awardees. Mombourquette, a former CBC television producer and magazine editor currently working as a freelance writer and columnist, chose the program with a very specific goal in mind: to create a self-sustaining website to help those with celiac disease (she herself has the disease).
“I see a huge potential benefit in the program’s combination of practical business knowledge and advanced online journalism practices,” reads her proposal. “In short, there is no central, trustworthy, critical information source for people who can’t eat gluten but who really love good-tasting, good-quality food … I want to create that resource.”
As Sedgwick puts it, Davies is pursuing “a broader intersection of journalism and entrepreneurship,” although he’s been interested in specializing in business and finance for the past year and a half or so.
“I’ve realized that the skill sets in journalism, [regardless of the state of the industry], are valuable in almost any situation,” says Davies. “The fact that they have a number of business classes in the program, and have partnered with the MBA school to an extent, was a draw for me … I’ve met a lot of entrepreneurs at various points in my life, and there was a period where I was finding them really inspiring – so I wanted to think like that.”
According to a Labour and Advanced Education news release published in late April, the provincial government, in collaboration with the Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents, plans to award 120 Innovation Graduate Scholarships to both masters and doctoral students enrolled at Nova Scotia universities during this academic year, with the intention of eventually funding 310 annually, gradually phasing the program in over the next four years.