The Class of 2022 graduates from the Faculty of Fine Arts and Communications danced, played, sung, designed, painted and wrote their way through their programs.

Now, they are sharing the stories of their journeys to MacEwan, the surprising and inspiring moments along the way, and their hopes and plans for what comes next.

Maya Abdallah wears a red shirt and is smiling.

Maya Abdallah
Bachelor of Communication Studies, Journalism

Initially, I had started out in the Bachelor of Arts and was struggling quite a bit. As soon as I switched to the communications program, I instantly knew it was meant to be. My performance and grades took a total positive turn and I enjoyed learning and growing in the journalism field.

As a young child I always enjoyed watching the news on television. To this day, I still remember some of my favourite news anchors and it inspired me to pursue a career in broadcasting/television. Throughout the course of the program, I also found myself enjoying the behind-the-scenes side of journalism, such as operating cameras, running media and directing.

I could not have made it through this program without my family, friends, classmates and professors who all played a huge part in everything I did. I could always count on them to encourage me when I was feeling unmotivated or struggling. Many of them helped me out with projects, interviews and more. I am so thankful and appreciative of each and everyone.

Kelsey Friesan stands outside in front of a red brick wall, holding an ice cream cone.

Kelsey Friesen
Bachelor of Communication Studies, Professional Communication

I wasn’t planning to go back to school. I hadn’t done a lot of planning, as it happens. I was working as a contractor in document control for a large petrochemical company outside of Red Deer when I made the decision to go back to school more out of frustration than anything. When an opportunity to apply for a permanent, salaried position came up at work, I quickly submitted my application. Shortly before the job posting was due to close, I was taken into a meeting with a supervisor and told that my application would not be considered as I had no relevant post-secondary education (or any at all, for that matter). I was assured by this supervisor that although it stung at the time, their denial was an opportunity for me to reconsider whether I actually wanted to continue in my role, or leave and seek something more fulfilling.

As much as it irks me to admit (I can still feel the sting), he was right. Being denied that job and relocating to Edmonton was far more than just a net positive for me – it was a much-needed push towards a path of tremendous personal growth. I’m not the same person I was four years ago. I’ve learned so much, become established in a community of people who challenge and support me, and learned a lot about myself along the way.

My time in the Bachelor of Professional Communications program at MacEwan changed the way I approach and interact with the people around me. I am able to truly appreciate the role that communication plays in our everyday lives – it is, after all, constant and inescapable. And while I still make mistakes (and will continue to do so, forever), I feel much better equipped to not only craft messages of my own, but also to help others communicate more effectively, whether that’s as simple as an email exchange, or as exciting as a major campaign or publication.

Shae McMullin sits on a brown leather chair in front of a desk with a computer on it.

Shae McMullin
Bachelor of Design
Dean’s Medal

I bounced around different creative careers for several years – animation, studio arts and textile design – but as soon as I tried visual communication design, something clicked. I learned about different branches and theories of design and was able to carve out a niche that particularly interested me. MacEwan’s design program has an earlier introduction to user experience (UX) theories than other similar programs, and regardless of the type of work I’m doing, I think learning the theories and processes behind design are integral to success.

During the summer of 2021, I participated in an internship with a local design studio and was hired on part time afterwards. Now that I’ve graduated, I’ve been hired full time as a UX designer with the same team and get to work with a fantastic group of people on projects I’m passionate about.

Seeing everything come together at the end of my final semester was definitely a big moment. I had projects that I’d worked on for months and even years that I got to finalize and share.

Sokhana Mfenyana is wearing a bold patterned shirt and gazing off into the distance, as she sits against a dark background.

Sokhana Mfenyana
Music Theatre Performance Diploma

Experiencing university in a foreign country as the only black woman in your class is an experience on its own. I got to see the world and myself through a different lens! The cold mornings and long days were all just a ball of fun. But getting to spend 12-hour days in the gorgeous studios at Allard Hall was an incredible experience – this was the beginning of my forever.

I came to Canada for choir, and watching friends that I had made grow in the Music Theatre Performance program drove me to take the program as well. A defining moment was finally getting to perform for a live audience during the pandemic. I will never forget standing on stage and opening The World Goes Round.
Getting to tell stories through art is what I live to do. Art is therapy to me.

Next, I conquer the world.

Aubrianna Snow stands outside, in front of green, leafy trees.

Aubrianna Snow
Bachelor of Communication Studies, Journalism

As a first-generation university student, I needed to be somewhere that felt like a community. MacEwan’s small class sizes and opportunities for campus involvement were of the exact size and formality I needed to get my feet wet in academia. I accessed kihêw waciston a lot during my time at MacEwan – it was a beautiful culturally safe space to learn with other Indigenous students or just relax. I met some of my best friends there!

My defining moment was when I found out that I had been successful in my second election for the vice-president, Student Life position with the Students’ Association of MacEwan University (SAMU). It was a really close race, and it was such a great feeling of accomplishment. I had so many amazing friends there with me and I’ll never forget celebrating that moment with them.

I’m passionate about communications because it is such an important and unique part of the human experience. I want to help people communicate safely and respectfully with one another. I think that’s a big piece of what will be needed to build a better world.

MacEwan was the first institution I’ve ever encountered where I felt that I was wholly accepted and protected, which gave me the freedom to pursue my passions. University was such a transformative experience for me and I can’t begin to express my gratitude to the folks who make the MacEwan community what it is. Wela’lioq, kesaluloq (thank you, I love you all)!

Becca Willson stands outside on a chilly looking day, wearing a grey coat. There are bare, leafless trees behind her.

Becca Willson
Bachelor of Communication Studies, Journalism

I did many memorable interviews throughout my journalism degree journey, but interviewing Darrin Hagan, the university’s 2020 Writer in Residence, is the one that sticks out. We did a phone interview for the Griff, and he was an incredibly kind and interesting person to talk with.

I am passionate about storytelling, and that is what led me to undertake a communication degree majoring in journalism. I feel like I am able to help people tell the stories that need to be told now, and with my education and experience I can only go further with this passion.

I had taken a few semesters at various schools in BC before moving to Edmonton and hearing great things about MacEwan. I feel like attending MacEwan was one of those ‘right place, right time’ moments for me.
My number one piece of advice for any university student is: you have time. Everyone makes this journey at their own pace and everyone’s story is important. Never feel like you’re behind or you have to rush. Even a setback that feels like a failure is just part of the story.

I hope what’s next for me is a big step into a broadcast journalism career. I have applied to many opportunities in B.C., as I have moved back home since graduating in December. I am so excited for the many possibilities that I have at my fingertips.

Xiaomei Yang is standing against a beige background. She is smiling and wearing a blue top.

Xiaomei Yang
Studio Arts Diploma

Before coming to MacEwan, I had studied and worked in areas from electrical systems engineering, computer applications and business administration to early childhood education and Montessori teaching. My family moved to Edmonton 2014, and in 2015, I registered in an English program at MacEwan. I have been passionate about art since I was young, and although I didn’t have formal training, my pursuit of artistic expression continued informally. I decided to learn painting with a Chinese art teacher in a small adult art class. She encouraged me to study art formally, so in 2019, I applied for the Studio Arts program and got acceptance.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had my surgery in the first term in 2019. It was a big pressure for me to continue in my program. I found release by creating the artwork “Rebirth after breast cancer” two years after surgery. In June 2021, my mom suddenly passed away when we had just moved to a new house and were waiting for her to visit us after the pandemic. My heart was broken and it was a huge hole in our family. I really don’t know how I went through this. I created my artwork “In memory of my mom.”

Studying art was always one of my dreams, but I always thought only people who are from wealthy families could become artists – they are all elegant and dignified and so gifted. I thought artists are not ordinary people. However, I have a different view after I studied fine arts. I want to be an art teacher to share what I have learned with children.

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