Meet the Faculty: Alison Beale

Meet the Faculty: Alison Beale

By: Emily Ross
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Though she never participated in a formal co-op program, Alison Beale, the new chair of Communication, describes her experience throughout her education as surprisingly similar to that of many Communication Co-op students.

Beale started her degree in English and Anthropology at the University of Toronto but finished at McGill where a Communication program was just started. This new program piqued her interest in the area and helped bring her to where she is today. One of her fondest memories of her undergraduate degree at McGill was a road trip. Several students, Beale included, stuffed themselves into a Volkswagen and travelled to Ottawa to hear the famed Jurgen Habermas give his first lecture in Canada. This was one of the experiences that made her feel a part of the Communication community, and since then, she hasn’t looked back.

“Be prepared, be persistent, and take risks. And talk to your professors.”

Besides this initial hook that Communication cast, Alison had a variety of jobs to supplement her education. Whether she was researching for the Ontario Cabinet Office, running a children’s film series, or learning office skills as a secretary, Alison ensured she was involved in order to progress towards her career. Once she entered her graduate studies at McGill, Alison became involved with Cine-Tracts, an editorial collective where she wrote, edited, translated, and conducted interviews for the publication.

Alison feels that, “all these experience helped me organize my work as a student”, and as she progressed in her studies, the relationship between academic and non-academic work drew closer. Alison felt her experiences were a lot like co-op in the sense that they provided her with an opportunity to test the waters in various occupations and acquire skills that were useful for her resume and her studies.

You still may be wondering, how did Alison end up at SFU (for 23 years and counting)? In the first year of her Master’s studies, she attended a conference on Harold Innis at the Burnaby Campus, where she slept on the couch at an SFU student’s Hastings Street apartment and met many people who, in the future, would be her colleagues. This experience linked her immediately to SFU.

And her tips for co-op students? “Be persistent, be prepared, and take risks. And talk to your professors. If they don’t know you, they can’t lead you to the terrific opportunities that are there for students.”

Posted on September 15, 2010