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Journalism grad Declan Keogh receives Gold Medal

Graduate is cited for his dedication to social justice journalism
July 02, 2019
From left: Mohamed Lachemi and Declan Keogh, holding his award on stage

Highlights for gold medallist Declan Keogh were a reporting trip to Hong Kong and a page one story in NOW Magazine. Photo credit: LifeTouch.

Declan Keogh graduated this spring as one of the top students in the bachelor of journalism program, leaving a legacy of stellar journalism on issues around society, the environment, health and marginalized communities. A multi-award-winning student, Declan has helped lead a national reporting project, done interviews with First Nations leaders across the country and helped guide younger students in their work. The gold medallist discusses what it takes—and how it feels—to receive the university's highest honour.

What does receiving the gold medal mean to you?

It means a lot to be recognized in this way because when I first applied to Ryerson, I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. I’m a high school dropout without a GED, so I assume when my application was first opened people were wondering what the deal was. It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do and it wasn’t until I was in a near-fatal car accident while on tour in the United States with my old band that I started to think seriously about my future. Now that I’ve completed my degree, I couldn’t be happier with how things have turned out.

What advice would you give students entering their first year?

You’re paying a lot of money to be here so you may as well make the most of it. Don’t stress too hard if things aren’t fitting right initially because you’ll eventually find your place in the school and in the world.

What do you wish you knew when you started undergrad?

I guess I wish that I had more confidence in myself. It’s not fair to say that academic accomplishments at Ryerson is directly tied to how I view myself –– I like to think that I’ve grown a lot since I’ve been here –– but it’s definitely helped.

Do you have any favourite classes/teachers, and what made them stand out?

The journalism faculty and staff have had to put up with me for four years and they deserve all of the credit they get. They truly care about the success of the students and try to stay on top of an ever-changing industry.

How did Ryerson support you during your time here?

Through Ryerson and the School of Journalism, I was able to get comprehensive training and mentoring which lead to a number of awards and opportunities. Ryerson sent me and a group of students to Hong Kong last year (and a different group this year) to report on the city and its people. It was a unique experience and one that definitely laid the foundation for our future careers.

What is your proudest accomplishment at university?

A final project in Andrea Houston’s Queer Media class turned into the front page, external link of an issue of NOW Magazine. I received a lot of support from her and the faculty in writing that story which was positively received. It was about the criminalization of sexual non-disclosure for people living with HIV, told through my own experience with the issue. I essentially came out as bisexual on the front page and that was a scary proposition. In the end, I received more positive feedback than negative and I’m not sure I would have had the courage to do it without the support of my teachers.

What are your future plans?

I have no idea. I want to continue to write and produce stories that are interesting and important to people. I’d also like to be my own boss or, at the very least, have a long enough leash to have my ideas come to fruition.

What does success look like to you?

A proud family and a supportive community.

What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser?

Reddit

Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?

Me

Who is your role model, and why?

My mom, because she raised me on her own while working full-time as a journalist.

Last piece of content you consumed that was impactful?

I’m reading a behemoth of a story in Motherboard right now about the United States’ involvement in Syria. It’s masterfully written and eyeopening to what’s been happening there for years.

What’s something surprising people don’t know about you?

Wouldn’t you like to know?

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