Award-winning Tsleil-Waututh journalist Andrea Crossan will soon be able to add teacher to her ever-expanding resume, thanks to a new role leading the next wave of reporters at the University of British Columbia.
Chosen for the Asper visiting professor program for her professional background, she will be employing her three-decades-long experience working in the likes of Afghanistan, Ukraine, Kenya and Brazil to teach the next generation the fundamentals of international journalism.
"Much of my experience in the last few years has been conflict, post conflict, post disaster," said Crossan, who will be spearheading the School of Journalism, Writing and Media's global reporting program for the 2022 academic year.
"So a lot of what I hope to share with the class is really how to build a skill set that can have them responding to breaking news, to travel and be able to do the work ethically and with as much transparency as they can."
The teachings will also touch on how to remain safe while out in the field, and how to work with collaborators on the ground. It will culminate with a trip overseas, where budding journos will create their own piece to partner with a news organization for publishing.
North Shore-raised Crossan, reflecting back on her own storied career and its humble beginnings, said she would have loved an opportunity like this when she was younger.
"I hope that students will get what I experienced, which is strong mentorship even if you come from a non-traditional route through to journalism," she said, describing how she left home at 16 and had only enrolled in higher education as an adult, when offered a scholarship program through City, University of London.
"I hope one thing I can bring to the course is the knowledge that you don't necessarily have to go through the traditional path to do this kind of work. If you are simply curious about other people's stories, and if you are driven by the pursuit of truth, then there shouldn't be all of those boundaries and limitations."
Crossan went on to become executive producer of The World and Senior Producer at the BBC, and now stands as the executive editor of the Global Reporting Centre, a non-profit, independent news organization based out of UBC.
Here she is one of a small team of journalists working on what she describes as "collaboration, innovation and education," allowing scholars, journalists, and news organizations to work together to cover neglected stories from around the world.
It is a line of work her upcoming 11 graduate students will likely one day want to contribute to. Should they want to, they will – with Crossan as their educator, anything is possible.
Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News' Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.