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Geneva Abdul

Global News Assistant at The New York Times

Geneva Abdul, School of Journalism ’17, Global News Assistant at The New York Times in London, England

This Q&A was conducted when Geneva was a global news assistant for The New York Times. She is now a reporter at The Guardian.

How has your journalism degree helped you?

I’ve always been curious, and my degree gave me the excuse to be unapologetically nosy. It helped me to not only understand the value in storytelling and informing others, but the responsibility and privilege we have in doing so.

What have you done since graduating/ how did you arrive at your current position?

After [university], I moved to New York City for a position at UN Women. Following months of covering events at UN Headquarters, writing and editing content for digital, and freelancing, I decided to take a leap of faith and move to London and fortunately landed a job at The New York Times.

Thinking back to your first-year self, how do you think they would react to where you are now?

I still pinch myself walking into the office every morning, and I think my first-year self would feel as I do now— that this is only the beginning and there’s so much more to be done.

What’s one of your favorite memories from j school?

I think it would have to be graduation. For four years, I spent most of my days stuffing my face with free lemon tarts from Balzac’s, alongside my closest friend who I’d bonded with over falling asleep in first-year classes. We were late for the ceremony because we had to go to Balzac’s one last time, and naturally, ran to make our own graduation. I ended up breaking my heel and my dress was partially falling off underneath my robe. It was quintessentially us and bittersweet — like nothing had changed but would also never be the same.

Can you talk about one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a journalist?

I think that I’ve been fortunate in my journey so far. There’s a great part of Helen Rosner’s interview on the Longform podcast when she delves into personal essays and the ways in which they are particularly predatory towards women and marginal communities. Toronto, like many cities, struggles with homogeneity in our media landscape and many writers are often perverted into confessional memoirs. When I began pitching ideas, I continuously had to remind myself that I was worthy of being published without having to inject personal tragedies in every piece.

Any memorable School of Journalism professors during your time at the university?

My experience at [university] and success thereafter would not have amounted to all that it was and is without Kevin MacLean and Mark Bulgutch.

And of course, Gary, because who doesn’t love Gary.

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