Canadian Literature helped honours student Maranda Wilson find her voice
June 22, 2016
Alumna (Class of 2016)
Creative and Critical Studies
Okanagan (Kelowna, BC)
BA, English Honours (2016)
“Once I switched to English, my grades drastically improved and I became more involved on campus. I’m really thankful I had that light-bulb moment early in my university journey.”
INTERESTED IN BOTH a UBC degree and the opportunity to experience a new city, Richmond, BC’s Maranda Wilson headed a few hours east to Kelowna and the Okanagan campus.
“UBC Okanagan is really the best choice for a Vancouverite looking for a change of scenery,” she says.
Wilson initially chose to study general science, but fate had other plans.
She struggled in her first-year science courses—she was ambivalent about the material. Before too long, compulsory English classes and “awesome (English) professors” helped Wilson realize she was in the wrong program.
“Once I switched, my grades drastically improved, I was less stressed, and I became more involved on campus. I’m really thankful I had that light-bulb moment early in my university journey.”
The next watershed was during a student journalism stint.
FINDING A CREATIVE OUTLET
For Wilson, joining UBC Okanagan’s student newspaper, The Phoenix, became a major UBC highlight. “I always had lingering thoughts about journalism as a potential career path,” she says, “but I was too intimidated in my first year. In my second year, I finally reached out and I became a contributor to The Phoenix. Not long afterwards, I was offered an editor position and found the creative outlet I was yearning for.”
“Working at the The Phoenix taught me interviewing skills, newspaper layout, editing, public relations, and more.”
INSPIRATION & GUIDANCE
In Wilson’s third-year Canadian literature class, Associate Professor Lisa Grekul became her honours degree supervisor. “She was someone I could go to for guidance, she always went above and beyond to help,” says Wilson.
Grekul’s class introduced Wilson to diversity and conflict in CanLit through minority writers. It’s where Wilson first encountered the term “hybridity.”
“Being half-Japanese and half-white, I always felt my experiences were different and rarely represented in society,” says Wilson. “It wasn’t until professor Grekul’s class that I really became interested in questions of identity and my place in a country like Canada. My honours thesis will allow me to further explore this.”
“I think it’s really important everyone—from the UBC Okanagan students to minority writers in Canada—have the opportunity to use their voice to share their own unique stories.”
LEARNING OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM
As Life Editor at The Phoenix, Wilson focuses on covering student life both on and off campus, as well as general student lifestyle, interest, and culture.
“What I’ve learned about UBC Okanagan is that it’s welcoming,” she says. “Being an editor at The Phoenix, I have interviewed so many different students such as varsity athletes, Students’ Union members, club executives, and, of course, regular students. Everyone is really interested in making the best of their university experience. Students are really friendly—I think we are all really proud of our campus, and we love to show it!”
Thanks to the skills she developed at The Phoenix, Wilson landed an internship in 2014 at The Richmond News, her hometown’s community newspaper. Her articles were published and featured on the front page.
“The really cool thing was that I was able to return from my internship and share what I learned with others at The Phoenix.”
She takes on the role of the publication’s Project Manager in September 2015.
Photos: Jordan Jones Photography