Alanna Mager (MPC 2014) enjoys what many typical twenty-somethings enjoy: Yoga, cycling, and new music. Leaving her previous role in the publishing world, Alanna entered the MPC program with a new attitude to “take on all opportunities”.
When an opportunity that blended her background in audio production and her interest in research came knocking, Alanna knew that the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s (SSHRC) Storytellers Challenge made perfect sense. The Storytellers Challenge asked students to create a communication piece that highlights “how a SSHRC-funded research project at their institution is making a difference in the lives of Canadians”. With her background in radio (she was an on-air host at the University of Western Ontario’s radio station for four years) and her interest in Dr. Matthew Tiessen’s work on gamification, the Storytellers Challenge seemed like a good opportunity because the “pieces came together”.
Out of almost 150 applicants, Alanna was the only Ryerson University student to be named one of the top 25 finalists. She and the other 24 finalists will attend Congress 2014 – Canada’s largest gathering of academics, researchers, policy-makers, and practitioners from social sciences and humanities – held this year at Brock University (St. Catherines, ON). The top 25 finalists will present at The Storytellers Showcase at Congress, where the top five finalists will be invited to attend the SSHRC’s Impact Awards in the fall.
Reflecting on her experience, she notes that the SSHRC Storytellers Challenge was a “why wouldn’t I do it?” situation that resulted in a truly worthwhile experience and gave her recognition in the academic world.
Alanna is still overcoming the “Imposter Syndrome” after realizing that soon she will be surrounded by celebrated academics and researchers at Congress 2014. “I was totally shocked when I found out that I’d won,” she says. Still, she finds this opportunity exciting especially because she will be the first MPC student attending Congress, and is quite proud to be paving the way for students to explore and discover a path where academia and the workplace intersect. Alanna strongly believes that the doors between the academic and the professional world should be kept open, and that a partnership between the two could very well lead to the communication industry’s next great ideas.
With this outlook, Alanna hopes to re-enter the workforce and secure a role where she can help organizations develop digital strategies and content. In the meantime, she will continue working on her MRP, which focuses on cross-platform brand storytelling.
View Alanna’s SSHRC Storytellers Challenge video on YouTube.