By Spencer Turcotte

RJAA President Vibhu Gairola

RJAA President, Vibhu Gairola

Freelance writer Vibhu Gairola, is the Ryerson Journalism Alumni Association’s (RJAA) newest president.

Gairola, a 2014 graduate of the program, says that he looks forward to the level of engagement this position will provide for not only him, but everyone involved.

“I value that through the organization you can be involved in a field which doesn’t always invite involvement,” he says.

Founded in 1989, the RJAA is one of Ryerson University’s longest running alumni groups. The association is made up of volunteers who are elected for two-year terms at an annual general meeting. The RJAA organizes networking events, recognizes admirable journalism graduates, and gives out an annual student bursary.

Gairola also says that this opportunity will allow him to continue learning, something he notes as being vital to the success of journalists.

“Journalism and the media are always caring about job losses so even sometimes as an on-staff journalist, it can be hard to engage with larger trends in the field because you are so busy just doing your work and trying to get that byline in a story,” said Gairola. “But I think going through an organization, it allows me to actually learn about things I’m still interested in.”

He says that moving forward, he wants others to join him as well in learning as much as they can.

To do so, Gairola has made it a top priority to continue the trend of hosting panel discussions and events that help those learn who are already in the industry or planning to go into it.

Gairola also made a point of highlighting the RJAA’s significance to Ryerson’s School of Journalism because of the sense of community it adds, especially after students have graduated.

“Journalism as a profession encourages individualism and competition and I think that often contributes to excellent stories, but I also think that you need competition and community, and the RJAA gives people a chance to have both,” he said.

Gairola says that there are not any major changes he plans to make to the association. He credits this to past-president Amanda Cupido, who he worked alongside in his role as vice president of events.

Cupido says that the RJAA has had a lot of growth and she believes it will continue upwards in that direction.

She also says that she has complete trust in Gairola’s ability to lead the association to great things — a phrase that is unheard of in recent history when it comes to any mention of presidents and politics.

“This is definitely not one of the presidential turnovers I’m concerned about,” said Cupido.