“Going into university, I kind of always knew what I was going to study because my dream job was to be a sports broadcaster. I love sports but I'm not very good at them, so I figure talking about them would be the next best thing,” Matthew Daigle
As a 10-year old Daigle was already thinking of diving into the world of journalism. He used to pretend to be an announcer at family game night or his sister’s hockey games, shaping Daigle’s idea of what we wanted to pursue in the future.
“I used to always watch hockey with my family and there’s always an announcer for the games, so I would pretend I was the one calling the game."
Miramichi, his hometown for 17 years, incentivized Daigle’s decision to move to another province to get his degree since they only offered a community college at NBCC as post-secondary education. Some of his options were: Quebec, Halifax and Fredericton, which were liberal arts institutions. His decision making took a last turn when he accepted admission to St. Thomas University (STU).
“After knowing what I didn’t really like in high school like chemistry and physics, I understood that writing was my passion, something that motivated me and I wanted to go to a school that would expand on that knowledge.”
His main reason for choosing STU as the next 4 years of his life was being close to home. In the end it all came down to being able to go back during holidays or special dates and feeling close to the family. The second reason was being able to work alongside the CBC newsroom professionals, whose knowledge and professionalism caught Daigle’s attention. In the fall of 2017 he arrived on-campus and took his first steps toward his hopeful career as a journalist.
Going into university, Daigle had no clue what 'communications' was but he fell in love with every aspect of it as his studies progressed. He says that his professors' guidance were key to his confidence and commitment to his pursuits. Daigle’s first journalism class was with professor Philip Lee, and had a significant impact on his studies, as he learned how to properly write articles and express himself in a journalistic sense. What he learned in communications and journalism classes like Professor Lee's were also complimented by his other studies. According to Daigle, St.Thomas encourages students to expand their major and minor studies, offering an arsenal of complimentary mediums to pursue as a career. Journalism is not always just print, writing, radio, podcasting or TV, it can be a mixture so diversifying your skillset helps learners. Plus, it empowers students with free access to technology like software, video, audio, and camera offerings deepen the students' connection to the world of journalism.
“For me, every little tool, skill, knowledge and practicum was worth it. I can’t speak for every journalist, but these experiences really helped me to form myself as a journalist.”
Being a student is never easy, for Daigle it definitely had its ups and downs, and it can be challenging if you are trying to gain work experience while studying. During his time at STU, Daigle worked as Editor for the Aquinian and he also took on two internships during his fourth-year. Through these experiences, he discovered that essays and report papers were all about filling information to hit the word count; while journalism writing is concise, direct, and has no grey area or opportunity to create additional information (often irrelevant). Learning to unlearn what he knew and embrace new ways of thinking was a large part of preparing him for the world of work beyond classroom walls.
“It took me a bit to get the hang of it, but then by fourth year I was pretty sure about it and now I don’t even struggle with it anymore."
Daigle also had to overcome personal hurdles throughout his studies and career journey. Self-described as shy, he needed to work hard to speak more confidently - a critical skill as a journalist. Jan Wong, another of Matthew’s professors, used to tell him to exercise his ability to speak up, to use that fear as fuel to get the interview done. With the help of his professors, experience building, and time, Daigle grew out of his shyness by fourth year. Above all, the pandemic was also not an easy transition since most courses had to adjust to the new online format. The stress and the workload were sometimes unbearable, plus staying inside played a huge impact on mental health. According to Daigle, friends, family, and professors made great effort to alleviate the unique pressures of being a student, an intern, and a human navigating Covid and social distancing during fourth year.
“I got through it but it was not easy, I really have to thank my family, friends and some profs for helping me through that last stretch of getting my diploma. As a journalist, I believe Jan Wong was one of my biggest influences. She really helped me with my confidence and being able to stand up on my own feet, as I move forward with stories, interviews and forming myself as a professional.”
Before concluding his studies in the spring of 2021, Daigle put himself out in the professional world - sending out resumes, applying for different positions, and maintaining connections to any opportunity that might be presented. This led him to his landing a job and since late May he has been working as a reporter for the Telegraph Journal with the St. John Times Globe section. In his role, Daigle covers a little of everything in print, mostly written articles and photography. Adjusting from school work load, and weekly articles to the new schedule of writing two articles per day was definitely challenging for Daigle but its a challenge he can tackle - every little bit of effort and all the ups and downs of his post-secondary and internship experiences was worth it.
“ I’m happy with how I have found my place in the world. Not everyone is as lucky.”