Alumni in the pit

Photo by Tracy Wright

Durham College alumnus, Manjula Selvarajah

“Treat your days at school as if you are already at your job. The first day at school was your first job interview. Be punctual, sit upright and meet deadlines. Do fabulous work because it is in you. Be ready to embrace opportunities.” These words of advice were given by Durham College alumnus, Manjula Selvarajah while here speaking at an for Alumni in the Pit event Feb. 6.

Selvarajah is a graduate from Journalism – Print and Broadcast program in 2014.

She was in technology before she became a journalist. She currently works at CBC radio, often on Metro Morning with Matt Galloway.

It was a call to action which had her make the change to journalism. She recalled watching the news several years ago and seeing a cargo boat that had pulled into a B.C. harbour with Tamil refugees.

“It was a strange moment for me. I remember thinking, what is going on? We have tons of people who show up on our borders every day and we give them the benefit of the doubt. I felt at that point the question of the benefit of the doubt happened because of racism.

The coverage in the news made her realize that the newsrooms across the country needed more representation.

“The face of Canada is changing. It helps to have diversity,” says Selvarajah.

When starting the journalism program, she did not know what to expect.  She said she gave herself three months  to determine if program was right for her.

As a mature student mother and wife, she found the balance a little bit tough.

But she said “the day-to-day pace prepares you for your regular day at work.”

Selvarajah added she was grateful to her professors as they were instrumental instructors,  preparing her for interviews with sources and ultimately, job interviews.

She praised the late Gerry Rose who was the editor for Chronicle as he would sit down and give her different suggestions on stories..

She had some great advice for journalism students.

Selvarajah said reporters will talk to people at the worst and best moments of their lives. But she added she loves her work.

Selvarajah, founder of Tamil Women Rising, an organization that empowers Tamil women to meet their goals and have a better future, concluded by saying “life is not fair to a lot of people. There will always be one with more money, more connections. The system has to change to fix the inequalities. The only solution to unfairness is grit and hard work.”