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Hobby Turns Into a Career

May 1, 2010

Hobby Turns Into a Career

Carrie Simmons had been studying Neuroscience at Western but soon questioned this path and realized she was just as passionate about media as she was about science.

“I never had any formal training in writing or editing, but I started volunteering at the paper in my first year of university and never left,” says Carrie who postponed coming to Western to pursue a Masters in Neuroscience, while she worked as an editor of a local newspaper. “Even when I arrived at Western, I spent much of my time outside of the lab taking photographs and continuing to write in my spare time.”

This revelation prompted her to quit her Masters in Neuroscience and apply to Western’s Journalism program. But that decision was made several months after the deadline for applications and with one week left before classes were to start. So, with her journalistic tenacity she took her story to the Dean of the Faculty of Information & Media Studies. One week later she flew to London from Brandon, Manitoba to start the new semester and her new journey in broadcast journalism.

Carrie says the chaotic start to her program meant she was late in applying for a student loan, and when she found out she was the recipient of the Mary Helen Sweeney Scholarship, she was delighted.

“The scholarship was like a back to school gift: totally unexpected, thoroughly helpful and wonderfully generous,” notes Carrie, who has started working as a technical editor at General Dynamic Land Systems in London and plans to continue volunteering at Western’s CHRW radio station. “It allowed me to concentrate on my studies in Journalism, and helped me find myself in the place that I belong. Without it, I might have made it into the program but not had the funds to continue with it.”

The Mary Helen Sweeney Scholarship is awarded to a graduate student in Journalism with a high entrance average. The $4,000 scholarship was created in memory of Mary Helen Sweeney, a 1951 Brescia University College graduate who went on to become a successful radio and television personality in London, Toronto and finally in New York. She died in 1998 at the age of 67.

“Mary Helen would be delighted to know that her scholarship will assist Carrie in pursuing her dream,” says her sister-in-law, Jo Ann Sweeney (BA ’58, LLB ’87).

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