There are those who prefer to make the news, and those who prefer to be the news. Red River College graduate Stephanie Scherbain knows which side she’s on.
“I wanted to be a part of the news, and not write the news,” says Scherbain, a graduate of RRC’s Creative Communications program. “I felt like I could make a difference by being in an organization that had initiatives and had something for journalists to write about.”
Mission accomplished. After studying both journalism and public relations in her first year of CreComm, Scherbain chose to major in PR during the program’s second year. She graduated in 2008 with all of the tools she needed to fulfill her career goals – and fast.
She landed a marketing job at St. Vital Centre in 2009 before assuming her current position as marketing and communications coordinator for the Exchange District Business Improvement Zone (BIZ) in 2010. There she shines a spotlight on the bustling area of downtown Winnipeg, by maintaining the organization’s website, working with businesses to create events, organizing culinary tours, and even playing tour guide herself on walking tours of the historic district.
“We feel that the Exchange is in the midst of a renaissance,” she says.
Scherbain credits her practical and hands-on CreComm education for giving her all of the tools she requires to do her job, from technical and presentation skills to TV and radio industry insight.
“It gives you the ability to think from different perspectives,” she says. “If you want to be on the news, then you’ve got to have something newsworthy. But then you have to think from the TV perspective, the visual perspective. It allows you to adapt to the different industries to make it a bigger, better picture.”
While choosing the public relations major at RRC was a no-brainer for Scherbain, it wasn’t the first career decision the Winnipegger has ever made.
Despite her mom’s suggestion that she explore CreComm when she was in Grade 12, Scherbain refused. “Me being a typical teenager, I ignored her,” she laughs.
At that time, Scherbain had her heart set on becoming a lawyer, and completed a sociology degree at the University of Winnipeg. She now admits law wasn’t the path for her, and she had been setting her sights on the courtroom for the wrong reasons.
“I wanted to connect with a grandfather I had who had passed away, and he had been quite prominent in the law courts of Manitoba,” she says. “But once I started to explore that, I knew it wasn’t a fit for me.”
Having been a creative person all her life – whether expressing herself by writing letters, sewing, playing music, or creating study brochures on important exam topics in high school – Scherbain reconsidered her mom’s idea.
“Finally, in my early 20s, I said ‘OK Mom, I will listen to you this time.’ So I applied, and I was thrilled to get in.”
Scherbain also discovered CreComm was more than just the key to her future career; it was a self-esteem builder. At the age of two, she was diagnosed with 50 per cent hearing loss in both ears, and she’s had to wear bi-lateral hearing aids ever since.
While the program’s broadcasting classes presented challenges – for example, she couldn’t exactly put on a pair of headphones to do a radio assignment – she’s proud of what she accomplished during her two years there.
“I love the fact that I could say that I was a communicator, despite hearing being the most difficult thing for me,” she says.
“I remember telling somebody in the deaf community that I was going to be going to CreComm and they said, ‘How can you survive?’ And I just knew that it was something I had to do for me because it was a self-esteem issue. It was a struggle. And it’s still a struggle every day. But you learn how to be resilient, and that’s what CreComm teaches you.”
Scherbain still maintains ties with the College. The former Alumni Board member often visits the downtown campus at Princess Street and William Avenue, since it’s only a stone’s throw from her Exchange District BIZ office. Last year she participated in the international student exchange program, where she got to connect with a woman from Vietnam. She even keeps in touch with one of her teachers.
“I just really enjoyed Red River College,” she says. “I enjoyed the practicality and the relationships made, and the ability to translate a lot of the skills and skill sets into my workday every day.”
— Profile by Lindsey Ward (Creative Communications, 2004)