Guidance counsellor, co-operative education and English teacher, Rick Hansen Secondary School in Mississauga
Trevor Birrell is Guidance counsellor, co-operative education and English teacher at Rick Hansen Secondary School in Mississauga
What have you done since graduating from Ryerson Journalism?
I was a drama/movement educator and events facilitator for the Toronto District School Board before attending OISE/UT for my B.Ed. and accepting a teaching position in the Peel District School Board. Currently, I am a diploma of psychotherapy candidate at the Ontario Psychotherapy and Counselling Program in Toronto.
How has your Ryerson Journalism degree helped you?
(It’s a) great foundation for writing. My required English courses helped build a foundation for teaching literature. My elective courses in psychology and sociology helped me in my current counselling profession and grad school work in psychotherapy.
What was the best thing you learned at school?
The economy of language. Use only what you need and use it well. The program also helped me develop a thicker skin. Competition and the hard-nosed world of professional journalism gave me that.
What advice would you give current Ryerson Journalism students?
Enjoy the ride. Experiment. Pursue journalism if it is your passion, but also allow it to be a conduit for other related careers if you feel driven in another direction.
How has journalism changed since you graduated from j-school?
I’m not exactly sure. I can see much of it has moved to stories online. Repackaging footage from other people’s videos. I see news as more accessible now — the Huffington Post —‘ and more positive — Upworthy. Social media seems to be the way to get stories that wouldn’t have a voice on major networks heard by a broader audience.
Do you have any regrets about majoring in journalism? Anything you would have done differently?
After my first year of journalism at Ryerson, I trotted myself across the campus to see if I could switch my major to Theatre (Acting). They were going to give me 0.5 credit for my Intro to Psychology class and other than that I would have to do my first year over again. I trotted back over to j-school to finish my degree there. The fourth year of the program was my favourite (documentary focus), so I can’t say I regretted my decision to stick it out. I went on to teach Dramatic Arts and perform without the theatre degree anyway.
Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew then?
Dabble. Have fun. This is four years of your life. Not the rest of your life. This will lead you somewhere. But likely not where you thought it would lead you.