‘Stay curious’ urges honorary degree recipient Anna Maria Tremonti

Hard work and curiosity are the keystones to a successful and fulfilling career, heard the graduands of York University’s School of the Arts, Media Performance and Design and Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies (LA&PS) during their convocation ceremony on Oct. 11.

Anna Maria Tremonti

The message was delivered in a speech by honorary degree recipient Anna Maria Tremonti, a celebrated Canadian journalist known for CBC’s Radio One show “The Current.”

Tremonti, the recipient of two Gemini Awards, an Outstanding Achievement Award from Women in Film and Television Toronto, and a Radio and Television News Directors Award, spoke to the graduating class about what might be next for them, and offered her advice on navigating the future.

“After all your hard work, you are opening to the door to more hard work,” she said to graduands. “It’s a tough job market for the new generation – but that doesn’t change what you’ve accomplished and whatever hopes and dreams you have today.”

From left: York President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton, Anna Maria Tremonti and York Chancellor Gregory Sorbara

Hang onto those dreams, she advised, and change them only for other hopes and dreams, and not for despair.

She emphasized that their first job won’t be their last, and their interests may change over time, and she shared a reminder that they are graduating because they made a proactive decision.

“You came here,” she said. “You are working at creating your own future, and your path going forward is something you get to determine.”

And along that path, she said, she hopes they never lose their curiosity.

“Somewhere along the way I discovered the thrill of following my own curiosity … and suddenly journalism began to matter in a different way,” she shared. She found the desire to learn about others and the curiosity to keep asking about it all.

Tremonti also spoke about the age of technology, and reminded graduands that it will continue to evolve during their future. We have never been so technologically enabled, she said, and yet much of the information that comes our way is ignored, or pushed away.

“It doesn’t go away, though, and it is the job of journalists to sort though it and find the truths … in the hopes that true information and informed truth will prevail,” she said. “That’s where you and I come in together – the more we ask about things … the more we expose the truth and the more we foster understanding.”

These elements are crucial today, during a very polarizing time, politically and socially.

“You may think I talk for a living, but what I really do is listen. I ask questions so that I can hear what people are thinking – everything they say teaches me something, teaches us all something,” she said. “The more we listen, the more we can think and hopefully the more we will find common ground.”

It’s your world too, she told graduands, and you have a say in how to fix the world’s problems – sometimes in small ways and sometimes in big ways.

“As you take what you learned here in a wider world, I would urge you to stay curious, and urge you to never stop talking or listening,” she said.