Ibukun Keyamo
Ibukun Keyamo
Ibukun is a first-year Unb student who loves writing. She is looking forward to working with The Bruns this year.
February 26, 2021

Notable Alumni Reflect on Their Time at The Brunswickan

Chris Wilson-Smith

The Bruns is the oldest student publication in Canada, which means quite a lot of students have passed through and demonstrated the usefulness of the experience once they left. But what makes an alumnus notable? We think all our alumni are doing amazing things, so we turned to the internet to see what other people had to say.

Kwame Dawes | Photo submitted by Kwame Dawes

Kwame Dawes is a former Editors-in-Chief at The Bruns, holding the position for three years – from 1989-1992. Now a world-renowned poet, he is the author of 22 books of poetry, and numerous other books of fiction, criticism, and essays. His awards include an Emmy, the Forward Poetry Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Windham Campbell Prize for Poetry. Since he left the paper, he has done more journalism in the U.S., U.K., Jamaica, and, of course, Canada.

Dawes says his experience at The Bruns has been very useful for him as a journalist, even going further to say that he never needed to go to journalism school because he had already learnt so much at The Brunswickan.

“I worked at The Bruns at a time when much was changing in print journalism and in journalism in general,” Dawes said. “The Bruns was extremely advanced in implementing the use of computers, web-based research, and design systems that were transitioning from the more ‘manual’ use of light tables, typesetting, and layout to a more digital approach… This gave me a command of the basic structure of the technical side of publishing and journalism, and this knowledge has been critical in my long years working in publishing, and has allowed me to speak with authority about the technical side of matters.”

Dawes advised future EICs to learn everything they can and stay up to date on current journalistic trends, to take risks, and learn from them. Dawes added an interesting bit of advice about writers: “You will also learn that journalists are unreliable,” he said. 

“Even as I write these responses, I am confident that I will be misquoted and my words placed in horrible context by this crack team of reporters, but that is life.”

Nathan White | Photo submitted by Nathan White

The Managing Editor of The Bruns from 2004-2005 was Nathan White. Nathan White is Senior Manager and Communications for Swimming Canada. 

“I work with our Olympic and Paralympic teams, creating communications plans and content to promote them, from writing and editing website stories, media guides, and press releases to overseeing social media channels,” he said. 

He didn’t leave journalism when he left UNB, because he went on to report for the Telegraph-Journal and has also worked for The Canadian Press, Globe and Mail, National Post, and CBC, among others. 

“The Bruns was a huge part of my development as a person and as a professional… It’s an awesome feeling to be part of something with such a history that makes such an impact in the community,” White said.

“I learnt how to pitch stories and sold a story about Gene Chiarello, the hockey goalie who survived brain cancer and returned to play for UNB, to The Hockey News, which was like a dream come true for a sports nut who had read pretty much every issue for a decade. Having clips in a major magazine like that helped me land first an internship, then a full-time job at the Telegraph-Journal, and I’ve just taken step after step in the journalism/communications world from there.”

Patrick Reinartz | Photo submitted by Patrick Reinartz

Patrick Reinartz was the Editor-in-Chief at The Brunswickan from 2004-2005 but had worked as the Arts Editor for two years before that. The current coordinator on academic initiatives at NBCC, Reinartz thinks The Bruns has helped quite a bit to get where he is today.

“You learn a great deal about writing and reporting, yes, but you also learn how to coordinate with others on an on-going basis while managing deadlines, how to navigate conflict, how to engage with the community, and how to find enough common ground that you can get a diverse group of people to work together as a unit and actually produce a paper on time every week (at the time, normal print runs were 10,000 copies weekly in broadsheet format, varying from 16-24 pages). That’s valuable experience even if you don’t pursue journalism as a career.”

Reinartz did not in fact do any more journalism after leaving The Bruns but put his experience as Arts editor to good use – he is now part of a popular synth-rock quartet called The Trick.

And to future editors of the paper, Reinartz said, “Be sure to listen to your student body, staff, and editorial board, and put trust in them to do their jobs well, because running a student paper is not a one-person job. Learning how to collaborate effectively is going to be a key to your success.”

Chris Wilson-Smith | Photo submitted by Chris Wilson-Smith

Now the Director of Media Relations and Issues Management at the University of Waterloo, Chris Wilson-Smith was at The Bruns from 2000-2002. After leaving The Bruns, he worked in journalism for a number of years at The Globe and Mail, The Canadian Press, Guelph Mercury, and the Waterloo Region Record. 

Wilson-Smith describes walking into The Bruns as feeling like putting on a warm sweater made specifically for him: “It helped me understand what I wanted to do, what I might be good at, and how I could make a living by being curious.”

Working at The Bruns wasn’t all rainbows though. Wilson-Smith said, “It’s proximity to The Cellar wasn’t great for my budget in terms of both money and waking hours. It’s important to get sleep, drink lots of water, and take care of yourself in general. We didn’t really understand that at the time and, honestly, much of the industry doesn’t.”

Lastly, he said, “Keep a focus on what makes you happy, at work and at home. It’s okay to be both.”

 


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