Genevieve and I met several years ago at a Bootcamp I have mentioned before in my work. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the NS Sandbox Creativity and Innovation Bootcamp brings together people of various disciplines across all university and college campus’ over Nova Scotia for an intensive Design Thinking Workshop. During this Bootcamp, hosted in the stunning town of Wolfville, at– que the dread filled music here – Acadia University, the St.FX students in attendance became fast friends. Perhaps it was the walks to meal hall, walking past the “Smile, you’re not at X” spray painted over the walkway, or the general feeling of camaraderie, but we all seemed to bond over those two weeks fairly quickly.
Since then, Genevieve and I have supported each other through sporadic ‘likes’ over social media and the additional comment here and there. When I began doing Narratives of the Nish however, Gen was at the top of my list to interview. Through social media, I had seen all of the amazing things she was doing. I always find it inspiring when people are putting their degrees to use, and who seem to be enjoying it. Not only is Gen’s story relatable to what I’m sure accounts for many students here at St.FX, but she has also opened up a branch of my project that I hope everyone will enjoy from here on out – Alumni Stories. Not just the run of the mill Alumni stories, but people who students can reach out to if they are interested in learning more about their work, how they got there, and how their degrees may apply in ways that perhaps they never realized before. In my conversation with Gen, we talked about her time in Toronto, and how the X-Ring she wore on her hand opened up connections in her industry and in general, in her new life in the big city.
Gen had moved to Toronto following her graduation from St.FX in ’19 with a Bachechelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Marketing. During the pandemic however, her mother convinced her to return home to Cape Breton. In the midst of a postgraduate degree in Sport and Event Marketing from George Brown, she placed all her belongings in a storage unit, and then moved home to finish her degree online. Having no plans to move back home originally, she has been making the best of it. Gen says “Cape Breton is such a big island, with so many places to explore, there will always be something I haven’t seen”, which has been good to explore given the restrictions on indoor activities. As home to all that outdoor beauty, Cape Breton isn’t the worst place to be in a pandemic. Gen now has a job working as the Marketing Manager for two car dealerships in Sydney, which has allowed her to use her postgrad learnings through partnerships with organizations such as the Cape Breton Eagles. Gen says her mother played a huge part in her move home, and even suggested that she apply for the job.
Gen’s mother also played a huge role in her degree. She fondly remembers a conversation with her mother, that she had in her final year of high school. She said, “In grade 12, I wanted to study psychology, and my mom said ‘I don’t think you’d like that’….she thought I was more suited to a marketing degree”, lucky she was right, and after being accepted to X for a Bachelor of Arts (BA), she quickly switched into a BBA in Marketing. Gen recalls that her time at X, being on O-Crew for Orientation Week was a highlight. She says that, “Being on O-Crew as a fourth year, you really appreciate it, because you know what is in store for them”.
After reminiscing about her time at X, Gen and I began talking about how surreal the whole pandemic felt, how sudden it was. Two weeks before the pandemic hit, I had just returned from Germany and Poland, and was at the bar with friends. Gen recalls that two weeks prior to the declaration of COVID being a pandemic, she was at a Raptors game, then went to see Hamilton. Even crazier, Gen says,
“I can remember the exact minute that COVID was declared a pandemic, and I remember when the NBA shutdown. Part of my program in Toronto was that we had to plan an event for Charity. Our event was March 13, it was declared a pandemic on March 12. Most of our speakers worked for the Raptors who had to go into quarantine. So our whole event got cancelled.”
She says this new normal will surely take some getting used to, but stressed that she wants students to feel like they can reach out to her with any questions about their degree, and interest in sport marketing.
Gen states that one of the best thing X has, is the strength of their Alumni Network. It can be a leg up in whatever industry one may be interested in pursuing. I agree with Gen, and that’s why stories like hers, which are relatable, and inspiring for students should be shared. I’m so glad I got to catch up with Gen and I hope through this story, some of you may feel that you can reach out to her too.