Science journalist Shannon Smith Houle wins $20,000 scholarship
By Barbara Black
Shannon Smith Houle has
hit a jackpot of sorts. She has been awarded a $20,000 Graduate Science
Writer Scholarship by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the
major federal agency funding health research in Canada.
This is an unusually large scholarship for a journalism student, and is
perhaps explained by Shannons own science background, which includes
a bachelors in psychology and a masters in psychology and
neuroscience. It is also a reflection of the growing importance being
given to accurate, knowledgeable writing about medical research.
Of the other nine recipients, one came from Kings College (N.S.),
two came from the University of British Columbia, and two came from Carleton.
These scholarships are usually given to science students for pure research,
but Shannon made a convincing case for science writing as a career. Having
attended French immersion schools in her native British Columbia, she
can also write in French.
Shannon was always interested in science, but she has also been a longtime
writer of fiction and poetry. She says she doesnt get much chance
to write poems these days, however, because of the intensity of Concordias
Graduate Diploma in Journalism program.
This is a year-long, three-semester program aimed at aspiring journalists
who already have an undergraduate degree in another discipline. Its
a hard program to get into, and thus attracts ambitious students from
across Canada and around the world.
The quality of her fellow students is one of the best things about the
program, Shannon said. Theyre so intelligent, and the variety
of their life experiences is amazing.
She also appreciates the faculty members. All are working journalists
who are very encouraging, but have a strong sense of what it takes
to work in the real world.
Young Journalists rewarded by
Journalism students enjoyed meeting working journalists on Oct. 24, at
the annual reception at The Gazette, on St. Antoine St. Montreals
English-language daily has close ties with Concordias Journalism
Department. A number of reporters and editors teach in the department,
including editor-in-chief Peter Stockland, and many students go on to
internships and full-fledged careers there.
The Gazette sponsors three awards, which were presented at the
reception. The Philip Fisher Awards, named for a former president of The
Gazette, were awarded to two graduate diploma students, and Catherine
Solyom, a winner from last year who is now a full-time Gazette staff member,
said a few words of appreciation.
Matthew McFarlane has a degree in musicology from McGill, and intends
to be an arts journalist. Clare Byrne is from Ireland, and speaks five
languages fluently: English, French, Irish, German and Spanish.
The Susan Carson Bursary, named for a reporter who died 14 years ago,
went to Michèle Mischler, who has a political science degree and
is a single mother.
The Lewis Harris Award, named for a reporter who died in three years ago,
went to Suzanne Gold, an undergraduate, who was not able to attend.