For the past two years, Alanna Robinson has been taking a break from a fifteen-year career in corporate law to be a stay-at-home parent with her two kids, Charlie (3) and Sophie (6), and also to ponder what her next career move may be.
The King’s journalism grad had been attracted to the field of law because she’d always considered herself a problem solver (including, when she was younger, cracking cases on TV procedurals, which she would often watch with her grandmother). She also never saw herself as the journalist who would head off to war zones or other exotic locales. That just wasn’t her.
She soon found a niche in privacy law, mostly in the health and finance sectors, often applying her copy skills to complex contracts, and soon she had built herself a successful career.
A few years ago, Alanna began to sense that something was missing. She felt underwhelmed upon returning to work after her second maternity leave. She thought a new job might help, so she left the corporate world and moved to a small law firm. But she still wasn’t feeling it. When her husband, Paul, a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Canadian Air Force, was offered a job in Washington, DC (the family had been living in Ottawa) Alanna thought—why not?
“It sounded like a great opportunity,” she says. “For Paul, of course, but for me, too, given how I’d been feeling in terms of work. Plus, the kids were young enough that a move would not impact them as it might have had they been older. It sounded like a great adventure.”
The family moved to DC in the summer of 2019. Paul works out of the Canadian Embassy in a public affairs capacity and Alanna plays the role of full-time parent, plus juggling volunteer work, as she’s been a devoted volunteer her entire adult life.
Looking back, a high school trip inspires
When Alanna looks back on her career and education, back to her journalism degree at King’s, her study of law (which her journalism degree played a key role in) and then her subsequent career, she cites a class trip to Europe when she was a high school senior as a pivotal event.
In high school, Alanna already knew she wanted to study journalism because she loved to write. She wrote for her high school yearbook and newsletter. She even wrote the morning announcements! She was also a curious person by nature. This made journalism sound like a perfect choice—and then a class trip to Europe solidified it.
“That trip was five countries in ten days,” she says. “It was my first time on a plane, it sparked a love for travel which I still have today, and it opened my eyes to the world and other cultures. It was such a big deal in my life at that time and I remember thinking how a journalism degree would lend itself to all of these things I loved. Writing, travel, my inherent curiosity. Things came into focus thanks to that trip. At the time of the trip, I had applied to King’s but had not yet heard back. Needless to say, I was elated when I learned I’d been accepted.”
Still connected to King’s
Alanna says King’s helped her to develop skills as a critical thinker, which has been a valuable tool not just in her writing and her career in law but in all aspects of life.
Says Alanna: “In this era of fake news, which I simply call ‘lying,’ everything I read, it seems, goes through this critical thinking filter I developed at King’s. Here in DC, every publication has a slant to it. In many cases, it’s not news at all—it’s opinion; in extreme cases, it’s not journalism—it’s entertainment. You need to think critically to determine what’s real.”
In the political hotbed that is Washington, Alanna says elements of her King’s education can show up in the most surprising ways. Time and again she is reminded that the classical texts on philosophy she studied at King’s over two decades ago are still very much a part of her.
“You see protests all the time here,” she says. “So, when I see a group of people with Q-Anon signs, I find myself thinking of the Republic of Plato, which I read at King’s as part of the Foundation Year Program. I smile to myself because I want to tell these people they’re in the shadows, and the shadows are preventing them from achieving the true enlightenment they seek. I want to tell them, ‘You guys need to read Plato!’”
Date updated: March 2021