VIU grads pursue publishing careers around the world

November 25, 2011 - 5:37am

When Brynna Gabrielson attended high school on Vancouver Island, she never imagined that one day she’d be living overseas and pursuing her dream career in publishing.

A recent graduate of VIU’s Creative Writing and Journalism program (CREW), Gabrielson is enrolled in the Master of Publishing program at Oxford Brookes University in the United Kingdom. It’s the largest publishing program in Europe.

She’s one of a growing number of VIU graduates who have moved on to post-graduate work and successful careers in the publishing industry.

Alumna Megan Radford, for example, received a graduate fellowship in the prestigious Master of Publishing program at Simon Fraser University. While at VIU, she was active in the CREW department’s writing and publishing workshops and won the Meadowlark Award for Fiction.

She also won Portal’s memoir writing contest, worked as Portal’s senior prose editor, and helped to edit and market chapbooks written by Gustafson Poetry Chairs and published by the Institute for Coastal Research. Since graduating, Radford has been working for Friesen Publishing in Victoria, where she helped to establish the company’s social media marketing platform.

Alumna Carra Simpson has already completed the masters program at Simon Fraser, and is now employed as Publishing Coordinator and Assistant to the Publisher at D&M Publishing of Vancouver and Toronto.

“Megan, Brynna, and Carra are only a few of our successful graduates,” said Steve Guppy, professor in VIU’s CREW department. “Others have gone directly into entry-level jobs with magazines and book publishers. This year, 14 senior Creative Writing students are enrolled in our Internship course and will be working with industry professionals to gain experience and develop their skills.”

VIU’s publishing, writing and internship courses provide students with practical industry experience. Students edit and publish VIU’s annual literary magazine, Portal, and many benefit from internship opportunities coordinated by Jennifer Davis through the Campus Career Centre. They also work alongside faculty like publishing instructor Rhonda Bailey who has extensive experience in the industry as an editor, publisher, and member of the boards of the Literary Press Group and Association of Canadian Publishers.

Bailey has recently been joined by new faculty member Joy Gugeler, former editor at Raincoast Books and current magazine publisher.

Faculty members’ industry experience enriches the learning environment for students, said Gabrielson. “VIU was a wonderful place to learn,” she said. “Everything I learned, from production to design and editing, has been invaluable.”

Gabrielson completed her undergraduate degree at VIU because the university was close to her hometown of Ladysmith. She knew in high school that she was meant to pursue a career in publishing.

“I carried a book everywhere I went,” she said. “Even today I’m nowhere without my ebook reader. I love stories - creating them, reading them, sharing them. I could try a dozen other things, but nothing else makes perfect sense in my head like books do.”

Gabrielson is learning that people don't go into publishing for the money or the prestige. “They do it because they love it and they can't see themselves doing anything else. I’m one of those people.”

After she completes her masters, Gabrielson hopes to work at a major publishing house. “I'm learning toward editorial or publicity,” she said. “I love young adult fiction. I hope to be publishing books and to become a published author myself.”

For information about VIU’s Creative Writing and Journalism program, visit

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