Multiple award-winner and Ryerson grad honoured with Gold Medal
At Ryerson’s fall 2019 convocation, Kira Brown was honoured with a Ryerson Gold Medal for her outstanding academic achievements and contributions to the Ryerson community.
Brown, who graduated with a master’s of arts (MA) in film and photography preservation and collections management (FPPCM) in the Faculty of Communication and Design, had the second-highest GPA in her program. She served as representative of the F+PPCM Graduate Council and as elected representative for the Ryerson student chapter of AMIA, the International Association of Moving Image Archivists.
Brown also volunteers for Toronto’s ImagineNATIVE, the world’s largest Indigenous-directed presenter of Indigenous screen content, and was awarded the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and Michael Smith awards for a thesis project to preserve a work by a Canadian First Nations artist that was the first virtual reality work of art exhibited in the National Gallery.
Here, Brown shares her thoughts on receiving this honour and what the future holds for her.
What does receiving the Gold Medal mean to you?
It is an honour to receive this award. It represents my dedication to academic success, but also the sacrifices my family made that allowed me to be here.
What advice would you give students entering their first year?
For students entering their first year of FPPCM, or any master’s program, my advice would be to advocate for yourself and your peers. Understand the industry in which you’ll be working and what your program does or doesn’t offer to prepare you for this career.
In our field of film and photography preservation, the practical and theoretical standards are constantly changing to reflect technology developments and the conversation around archival ethics.
To succeed, you’ll need to ensure you have the latest skills. In addition to your course work, to help ensure you’re keeping up, seek out additional education by volunteering, attending conferences and workshops, and by asking your program to provide additional training where suitable.
Do you have any favourite classes/teachers, and what made them stand out?
The faculty have worked or are currently working in the industry themselves and have imparted invaluable knowledge, shared contacts, and supported the success of the students as a group and individually. Ultimately, they want us to succeed. When we graduate and enter the field, we represent the university and the program.
How did Ryerson support you during your time here?
The best support I received was from FPPCM alumni who were always open to sharing their experiences in the program and working in the field. In such a small community, it is important to remain in contact with your peers, whether they live in Toronto or The Netherlands.
These are the people you’ll be working with, seeing at conferences, helping you identify a film, decide the best file format, or who can keep you in the loop on potential job opportunities.
What has been your proudest accomplishment?
Finishing my MA thesis and graduating with my 90-year-old grandmother in attendance (I lived with her throughout my undergraduate degree).
What are your future plans?
I’m currently finishing a short-term contract working for a private art collector. I plan to continue my research into media art preservation, specifically the use of young technologies such as virtual reality, and to eventually find a job working in an art institution with a moving image collection.
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