Humber College radio grad George Stroumboulopoulos took off onto a career that put him in the chair of Canada’s many broadcasters. And he brought some of that journey back to his alma mater last week.
In a coffeehouse session at Lakeshore campus last Friday, a small table brought together a handful of student journalists with the media personality.
Spanning several hours in a casual conversation setting organized by Ten Thousand Coffees, Stroumboulopoulos recalled he went from dead end jobs to becoming a broadcast journalist.
He spent the afternoon reflecting on his career path, connecting it with a philosophy that comes in working in the public eye.
“Don’t let anybody take your joy from you, or don’t let anybody crush your dreams. Don’t,” Stroumboulopoulos said.
“There will be many people who will try to limit you, because that’s how things work and people don’t want you to swing for the fences because you might fail, based on their definition of failure or success,” he said.
Graduating from the college’s Radio Broadcasting Program in 1993, Stroumboulopoulos opened up with a familiar story of his early years in school in an era when online networking didn’t exist. The program was his entry point.
“I was a 19-year-old forklift driver who made subs at Subway sandwiches (in Malton), who had nobody in this business, who had no education,” Stroumboulopoulos said.
“I went to Humber College eventually, but I had no future,” he said. “I didn’t have any pathway. It’s just work ethic. It’s not magic, and rejection is like ego. Honestly, do the work on ego and get rid of that.”
Katie O’Connor, a Ten Thousand Coffees spokesperson, says it’s crucial to get past a process of reaching out in order to connect with communities.
The networking brand connects former notable alumni across different programs with existing students in a related field. Instead of breaking the ice, it gets melted away with coffee serving as a middle ground for introductions.
“I think there are a lot of people who want to give back, and want to share their story but don’t necessarily have a platform to do it, and don’t have an easy way where they can have that two-on-one, five-on-one conversation,” she said.
“It’s really important for us to give the ability to meet those who have a lot of wisdom to share,” O’Connor said.
Networking is now virtual, and online collaboration is expanding to include other programs beyond journalism. But for Stroumboulopoulos, the alumni came to a full circle in spending time face-to-face with a younger generation of storytellers.
“There are a million people who don’t want you to succeed, not because they’re malicious but because they don’t understand you’re different,” Stroumboulopoulos said.
“And you’re gonna be older, longer than you’re young,” he said. “That’s the truth.”