The end is in sight folks, the term is nearly over, we’re almost there. You can do it.
Our alumni are all over the world, doing interesting things. We thought it might be nice to reconnect with some of them. In this issue, we chat with Todd Lane.
Tell us a bit about yourself professionally. Where do work? What are your responsibilities?
I work as the Director of Communications for the Minister of National Defence. I work as a political staff member in the office of the Minister with colleagues from the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces to help plan out announcements, assist in the planning of events, lead in speechwriting efforts for the Minister and respond to media inquiries from press across the country and around the world.
When did you study at Carleton? Did any particular class/faculty/staff/librarian have an impact on you?
I started my career at Carleton as an engineering student. After 3 years in that program, I came to the realization that engineering just wasn’t the best fit for me. So in the Winter term of my third year I reached out to a number of professors in the history department to see if they were willing to take a chance to have me in their class. Professor Diptée was one of the first professors that I reached out to. She welcomed me into a class which I was missing the prerequisites for and always provided guidance and advice to me, especially with writing. Because of Professor Diptée’s support, I took a number of her classes to learn about the trans-Atlantic slave system and how race and power have shaped historical narratives in the New World.
What was the path that got you from life as a student to where you are now?
After I graduated with my degree in history, I pursued a graduate degree in European, Russian and Eurasian studies. I was not quite sure on what my plan was after graduate school and over the summer I got involved in a local municipal campaign. Getting involved in politics was not a plan, but I really enjoyed it. Though the candidate I had volunteered for did not win, I was able to make some meaningful friendships and professional connections. After that, I got a job as an executive assistant at Queen’s Park in a Minister’s Office. Since that time, I have taken a series of increasingly senior roles in both provincial and federal politics and have served as a press secretary, a legislative assistant, an issues manager, and a senior advisor for strategic planning and tour for the Premier of Ontario. The jobs have always been extremely rewarding and have exposed me to new ideas and new people who consistently have helped me grow professional.
In what ways did studying history shape how you think about the work that you do?
First of all, studying history showed me the importance of a well-researched and well written argument. Coming from engineering, mathematics provided certainty. It was very binary.
In history, you have to base your arguments on the facts that exist and develop a compelling narrative. These are critical skills. Strong communication skills are becoming even more important for all professions.
Secondly, having a strong rooting in history is critical as it provides context for the events of today. No event that you read about in a newspaper or see happening around the world has happened without some historical legacy to it. Our institutions, our countries and our memory are based on previous decisions and choices. Learning about the history of those decisions and the reason for them is critical to understanding why we are where we are, and what we can do to grow.
If you could send a message to your younger self, when you were an undergraduate studying history, what would it say?
One lesson I was I could say is edit, edit, edit. Great writers are actually great editors. It was one of the pieces of advice that Professor Diptee gave me that I wish I had internalized more. Have people read your work, have them provide feedback. Read your own work out loud back to yourself. Give yourself more time than you need to write and edit any paper.
We’re pleased to celebrate the work of Joshua C. Blank (MA, ‘10):
The Joseph Swastek Prize, which is awarded annually by the Editorial Board members of Polish American Studies for the best article published during the previous year in a given volume of Polish American Studies, has been awarded to Joshua C. Blank for his article “Stills in the Hills: Moonshine Memories from around Canada’s First Polish Kashub Community” (vol. 76, no. 1, Spring 2019).
According to the Editorial Board, Blank’s essay engages in meaningful scholarship in the area of food studies, examining the formation of ethnicity through the lens of consumption, while highlighting an understudied experience of Canadian Kashubs. The author combines anthropological and historical research to present a topic of important social and cultural consequences in the diaspora. ”
Congratulations Joshua! See the full the announcement
Folks, this is an entirely personal recommendation from Shawn: “I can’t recommend to you enough the work of Tressie McMillan Cottom. She is a scholar whose craft continually astonishes me. Read her ‘essaying’ series for a look into how she does it. “
We’re going on hiatus for the summer with the newsletter.
If you’re graduating this year, and you’d like to remain in touch (maybe even continue to receive this newsletter!) send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your new contact details or an email you will continue to use in the future. We’d love to hear what you get up to, what adventures you have, the places you go!
Our next issue will emerge sometime around the start of the next academic year, time and energy permitting. If you’ve enjoyed this season of ‘The View from the 4th Floor Paterson’, let us know! Suggestions for improvement welcome.
-SG, on behalf of the whole Communications Committee