Hiscox encourages graduates to ‘aim high’

Used to starting her day behind the CBC Morning newsdesk, Heather Hiscox greeted the morning with inspirational words of wisdom for University of Western Ontario graduates Friday.

Hiscox spoke to graduates from the faculties of Arts and Humanities, Science, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Brescia University College, Huron University College and King’s University College, as well as the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at the Oct. 28 morning session of Western’s 298th Convocation.

The university conferred an honorary Doctor of Laws upon Hiscox in recognition of her contributions to Canadian journalism.

“Journalism is an entrée, a free pass to slip into other people’s skins for a brief moment and to witness there the full expression of human nature, from honour to evil and everything in between,” Hiscox says.

“In learning about them, I’ve often learned a great deal about myself.”

Hiscox is the anchor of CBC News: Morning. She has covered everything from political dramas, like the 2005 sponsorship scandal, to the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Hiscox, who earned a Master of Arts in Journalism from Western, also led CBC’s Olympic coverage in Athens, Greece, Turin, Italy, Beijing, China and Vancouver.

As graduates forge their way in the world, she encouraged them to remember the words: altitude, fortitude and gratitude.

Just as an astronaut sees a world with no borders, graduates should dream big and aim high, she says, noting there are no limits to their future. “Dream big; don’t just be comfortable, take risks,” she says.

The key to happiness is to find what you love to do, no matter what this is, and to work hard to make it a success, she continues.

Many challenges will come your way, but obstacles present opportunities, Hiscox notes. These allow you to stop, think and evaluate yourself with objectivity. It is important to continue to pursue your passions and push through setbacks.

Through her many interviews, particularly telling difficult stories, Hiscox has found a greater appreciation for her life.

“As you have been helped by others, I encourage you to reach out to give help to others,” she says.

“Altitude – aim high; fortitude – stay strong; and gratitude – say thanks; three life lessons I have acquired from my guests over the years and which I have been delighted to share with you this morning,” she says.

Her passion for journalism began at a young age.

As a teenager she first stepped behind the microphone at her hometown radio station in Owen Sound. While finishing her journalism degree at Western, she worked at several London radio stations.

In the early 1990s she moved into television, working as both a reporter and anchor in southwestern Ontario, Halifax and Montreal, before landing her current position in 2005.

“In the future, may each of you find success on the terms which you alone will define; a path which you alone will alone will choose; and a life story which you alone will write,” she concludes.

In her citation, Faculty of Information and Media Studies professor Romayne Smith-Fullerton says she looks to Hiscox to bring sensitivity, dedication and commitment to covering the people and stories that make up the many and diverse communities of Canada.

“It is the journalist whose job it is to move the medium from ‘contraption’ to an effective and affecting mode of communication,” says Smith-Fullerton. “So the person inside this contraption – inside this thing we call journalism – really matters because it’s she whose vision of the world is brought to us through her works.”

Also during the ceremony, Arts and Humanities professor Robert Stainton was awarded the Distinguished University Professor Award.

Click here to watch the live broadcast of Western’s convocation ceremonies Oct. 27-28.