This past weekend, we celebrated UAlberta’s Alumni Weekend (Sept 24-27, 2015), and the Faculty of Arts has been proud to share the stories of our inspiring alumni. The faculty hits a key milestone this year with 50,000 alumni contributing in all areas of life worldwide. Watch for more inspiring alumni award winner profiles this week.
We encourage all Arts grads to proudly identify as #1of50K on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram all year long!
Blue Knox is the kind of person who says “yes” to a challenge.
In the last five years, she’s emerged as one of the most prolific and prominent students in the Faculty of Arts – with a double major in Political Science and English, a Certificate in Globalization & Governance and a Certificate in International Learning.
A self-professed adventurer and explorer, Knox has developed an impressive resumé of study abroad and volunteer experiences, and earned herself a reputation as a politically-engaged student and citizen.
In 2012, she volunteered as a play worker in Cambodia and studied International relations at the Washington Centre a year later. She has interned with the Kids with Cancer Society, the Government of Alberta and Leadership Africa, and was instrumental in starting The Wanderer – a popular online magazine, focused on Edmonton politics, culture, sports and science.
In between, she has served as co-chair for the annual Alberta Not-for-Profit Case Competition, submitted a project to the U of A’s innovative Undergraduate Research Initiative (URI) and spearheaded Edmonton’s Top 100 Women in Business Project.
But it hasn’t always been easy to say “yes.”
Because of financial strain, Knox also spent a large portion of her academic career working to make ends meet.
And, as any student knows, applying for study abroad programs and internships means spending additional dollars.
“I worked full time for the first two years of my degree; I couldn’t get too involved in other things because I was spending my time raising funds to pay my regular school tuition,” she explained.
“It can be intimidating, if you don’t realize there is help available.”
Fortunately for Knox, she found the support she needed at the University of Alberta’s student financial aid office.
“I got to know the people working there on a first name basis, and I was able to get so much financial assistance,” said Knox. “It’s not easy to do, and you have to get informed and stay on top of applications, but I was incredibly lucky.”
But even with financial assistance, Knox’s prolific academic career was nearly cut short in 2014.
After returning from a semester abroad in France, Knox did the math and realized she wouldn’t be able to afford another year of tuition.
She says she was contemplating how to break the news to her mother, when a miracle appeared in her inbox.
“I checked my email and I saw that I had been chosen for the Lois E. Hole Student Spirit Award,” she said.
Along with the prestigious accolade, Knox received a financial grant with the award. That boost was exactly what she needed to get her over the final tuition hump and make it through her fifth and final year.
Knox was elated, and relieved. “It’s absolutely the only reason I was able to finish my degree,” she said. “I was very fortunate.”
Knox wasn’t able to accept the Student Spirit Award in person at the 2015 Alumni Award ceremony on September 24. She was busy saying “yes” to a new adventure – a one-year contract with the Canada China Business Council in Beijing as a Client Support and Event Officer.
“I’ll be working on communications, event planning and facilitating Canadian connections,” said Knox, who admitted she was excited but anxious as she prepped for the big move. For the academia lover, graduating has been bittersweet.
“Everything is connected – the reason I’m a good communicator, a good leader, a good person for this position, is because of my Arts education,” she said.
While she intends to work for a few years, Knox isn’t certain she’s finished with school just yet.
“I’m planning to maybe go to law school or get my masters,” she mused. “This year, my goal is to come out with decent Mandarin skills. Next year is wide open.”