By Spencer Turcotte

Two Ryerson School of Journalism students have been offered the 2017 Joan Donaldson CBC News Scholarship.

Fourth-year student Jacqueline McKay and master’s of journalism student Avneet Dhillon are among eight aspiring journalists from across the country who will join the CBC team for 16 weeks starting this Spring.

Ryerson faculty internship coordinator and liaison with the CBC, professor Jagg Carr-Locke, oversees students’ applications for the Donaldson Scholarship.

She said that both students display a professional demeanour that is well beyond their years.

“What stands out about them is their versatility and commitment to the craft,” said Carr-Locke.

Each Donaldson Scholar receives training and four-month paid work in at least one location within CBC News and Centres.

Scholars can work primarily behind the scenes, on air or a combination of both. The scholarship is named after the highly respected CBC journalist, Joan Donaldson, who also taught broadcast journalism for a period at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.

Carr-Locke said that McKay has a real “diligence around being digitally savvy.”

McKay said that she hopes the scholarship allows her to to build off those skills and teaches her how to file stories for broadcast, digital and print all in the same day.

She will travel to Yellowknife, N.W.T. in May where she has a better opportunity to achieve that goal compared to when she interned at CBC’s The Current, she said.

“I’m looking forward to going to Yellowknife because it’s a smaller CBC bureau and I’ll get to play a bigger role. I also get to go into a community that has a lot of great stories and potential.”

Telling a variety of stories from across the country is something that McKay said she emphasized during her interview for the scholarship.

She also said that she highlighted the fact that she is Metis and has lived in different parts of Canada. According to McKay, her understanding of the country’s culture might have been what made her stand out.

“Joan Donaldson Scholars are people who want to tell stories of every Canadian, not just a segment of Canadians,” McKay said.

Dhillon also said that she looks forward to reporting in a different city that will give her more responsibility.  She will travel  to St. John’s for one of her three placements as part of the scholarship.

“I’ve heard that with places like St. John’s where it is a smaller market, they really throw you into it and you get to do the reporting and cutting tape on the first day,” said Dhillon “It may be overwhelming but I look forward to taking on those challenges.”

Dhillon studied political science and business as an undergraduate at the University of Waterloo.

Through the school’s co-op program, she had the opportunity to work in different industries like government research, non-profit fundraising and digital marketing. She said her diverse range of experiences outside of journalism helped contribute to a more attractive application.

Carr-Locke said both students are among some of the best new talent coming out of Canadian journalism schools and believes McKay and Dhillon can deeply benefit from being Donaldson Scholars.   

“It’s a great portal of going through ‘the best’ available across the country, so there’s going to be a positive outcome there,” said Carr-Locke.