Gold medal recipient does groundbreaking research in social media influencer field
Ever since Ruvimbo Musiyiwa moved to Canada from Zimbabwe in 2010, she has been building a strong academic career. Most recently, she completed her master’s degree in communications and culture, researching the Canadian influencer marketing industry. Musiyiwa explored the relationships between industry professionals and the brands and influencers they engage with through the lens of the Competition Bureau’s review of the industry.
Not just an outstanding scholar with a 4.12/4.33 CGPA, Musiyiwa is also involved in extracurricular activities through her contributions to student-run academic conferences, supporting undergraduate students as a teaching assistant and mentor as well as by volunteering at her local Eglinton-Lawrence constituency office earlier in her academic career.
We caught up with her to talk about what it means to receive the Gold Medal, her advice to first year students and how the Ryerson community has supported her throughout her educational career.
What does receiving the Gold Medal Award mean to you?
This past year has been challenging because I haven’t been able to connect with the Ryerson community in person. I have also been juggling a lot of competing priorities in my personal life, on top of my school responsibilities, so it has sometimes felt difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s humbling to receive a recognition like this because it reminds you that your efforts don't go unnoticed and that staying laser focused on your goals will be appreciated.
What advice would you give students entering their first year?
Trust the process. Sometimes, things don’t go according to plan and that shouldn’t be a discouraging factor but rather, a moment of reflection. You should ask yourself if you still have the same goals and if not, that’s okay. It’s a great opportunity to reflect on where you’re at and how you plan to move forward.
Another piece of advice I would give is to reach out when you need a little extra help. This could be to family members, supervisors, or other students. In my experience, I have found that any professor I have reached out to is eager to help. We're all working towards the same goal and your professors want to see you succeed. So whenever you need help, don't be afraid to reach out to them.
Do you have any favourite classes or professors, and what made them stand out?
I took an elective course with Dr. Paul Moore, professor and program director in the Department of Sociology, during my master’s program. Beyond being a great teacher and someone who really guided us in finding our writerly voice as graduate students, he also helped me grow as an academic and inspired me to continue supporting students through mentorship and tutoring as his teaching assistant.
I have also enjoyed working with my supervisor Dr. Jenna Jacobson, assistant professor at the Ted Rogers School of Retail Management. She is a stellar academic who supported me greatly through the development and completion of my thesis project.
How did Ryerson support you during your time here?
I was booking individual appointments with the writing and language support team and also regularly attending virtual coffee and writing sessions run by the Student Life and Learning Support and other graduate students. This helped me improve my writing skills, connect with graduate students from other programs, as well as address some of the challenges I was facing during the thesis research process.
I also attended some great TechTalent Accelerator, external link sessions, a training program designed to equip attendees with the right skills to enter the Canadian technology sector. Through this program, I virtually participated in talks and panels where I learned about mentorship, career development, networking and having a growth mindset in both academic and professional environments.
What has been your proudest accomplishment?
I would have to say the day I defended my master’s thesis in September. Since it was a virtual presentation, my family from Zimbabwe and South Africa was able to join by video. My family was there to see me complete my thesis, with distinction and no major revisions, which meant a lot to me.
What are your future plans?
I'll be working with my supervisor on potentially publishing parts of the research that I did for my master’s project and doing some conferences to share that research. I am also hoping to work with her as a research assistant with the Ted Rogers School of Management.
I will also be applying for my PhD in October next year, with the goal of being accepted in 2023. In the meantime, I want to gain some work experience as well, so I'm looking into internships like the Ontario Internship Program.