Tamara Baluja with Governor General Julie Payette. PHOTO BY PATRICK DOYLE

She started her journalistic career by writing for The Varsity and volunteering as a news reader when she was an undergraduate student. Years later, U of T alum Tamara Baluja has won the prestigious Michener-Deacon Fellowship for Journalism Education. She was presented with the award at Rideau Hall on June 12 by Governor General Julie Payette.

The Michener-Deacon Fellowship is presented to a single journalist who becomes a journalist-in-residence at a Canadian journalism school.

“Every year, the Micheners honour the best in Canadian public service journalism, and it is awe-inspiring to be among so many brilliant journalists,” wrote Baluja in an email to The Varsity.

As the current Social Media Editor for CBC Vancouver, Baluja will be taking a semester-long sabbatical at the University of British Columbia to develop a workshop centering on social media, its metrics, and how to develop editorial strategies.

“When I was accepting the fellowship, I also acknowledged my start at a student newspaper. My husband, then boyfriend, and I both were studying at U of T and he dared me to write for The Varsity,” wrote Baluja. “I took up the challenge, and I was completely hooked on journalism from that point on.”

“That dare of writing for The Varsity set me on a completely different career path from becoming a doctor, and since then, I’ve gone on to work for The Globe and Mail, CFRB 1010, and CBC,” continued Baluja. “But The Varsity is where it all began and so the paper and U of T both hold a very special place in my heart.”

Editor’s Note (July 30): A previous version of this article incorrectly reported that Baluja was taking a year-long sabbatical, not a semester-long sabbatical. This piece has also been updated to reflect that the Michener-Deacon Fellowship is awarded to a single journalist. 

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