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Athabasca University

Lara Hill

BPA Communication Studies - 2006

Lara Hill left her job at the beginning of 2005 to study full time with AU, and completed her requirements (BPA Communications) in March 2006 while living in Hong Kong. Although she wasn't able to travel from Hong Kong to attend Convocation, Dr. Karen Wall was in Hong Kong for a conference at the time and presented her with a symbolic diploma. Here is Lara's story:

Why did you choose AU?

Partly because the program recognized credits earned from a diploma I received from GMC (Grant MacEwan College), but also because I could study at my own pace while I continued working. This alleviated financial pressures for me too. It turned out to be the best choice for me, given the fact that I could complete my studies abroad.

Lara Hill

Why BPA?

It was a natural next step, building from an audio visual communications diploma, but mostly because I find the communications discipline so compelling on many levels. The deeper I got into the program, the more I realized it was more suited to my interests and potential than just a BA.

What memories would you like to share about your AU experience?

What I really found challenging and timely was our move to Hong Kong, right in the middle of a full course load. It was daunting, but I was able to turn the last year of my degree into a very rewarding one pertinent to my new surroundings. I won't be able to participate in convocation this spring, but I had the lucky experience of celebrating my convocation here in Hong Kong, with Karen Wall, who happened to be in town for a conference. Again, quite timely and appropriate given the fact that Karen has been a mentor and source of real academic and personal inspiration since 2002. I can't think of a better representative of Athabasca University than she to shake my hand over this achievement.

What are you doing now? How has your degree enabled you to get a job in your field?

Back in Canada I undertook a Master’s degree in International Studies with a focus on economic development (Simon Fraser University 2008). My thesis research built on my Communication Studies courses in  cultural policy, communications theory and evolving international media systems. My thesis took a particular interest in where cultural preservation and economic policies interact, as quite often these are considered as separate and as a result- fall short. An excerpt of the thesis appears in the 2011 fall issue of the Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development.

Since 2007, I have pursued my ongoing passion and love for my photographic trade through my loving documentation of contemporary Aboriginal artworks for a Vancouver gallery, chronicled through the publication of three catalogues and a coffee table book. I was honoured to be registered as an author and photographer in the Library of Congress thanks to the Heard Museum’s (AZ) collection of both my thesis and these photographic collections. Samples of my work are accessible at

Recently, after nearly a year working as the Vancouver Regional Coordinator for the United Nations in Canada’s Multimedia + Multicultural programme (M+M), I took on the management of M+M’s national media internships.  During that time, I founded and directed a vibrant community collaborative called “Me in Media,” examining ethnic representation in mainstream media ( In October 2011 I moved to Ottawa to manage UNA-Canada’s prestigious international United Nations Professional Placements Programme (@UNPPP) where I will focus on revising communications strategy and sourcing alternative funding.

All of these experiences continue to inspire my ongoing desire for life-long learning, a trait I credit to my experience with Athabasca University. My 10-year plan includes completing a Ph.D. degree allowing me to formally contextualize my evolving interest in the role of art, media and culture in global intercultural communications and cross-cultural understanding.

Lara has gone on to work with development projects including the one profiled in this podcast, and is about to begin PhD studies at Royal Roads University. The Expats Podcast, Episode 29: A Canadian Expat in the Maldives. Imagine living on an island the foundations of which are millions of living and dead organisms. That’s a little hint of what it’s like to live in the Maldives. Learn about AU Communication Studies graduate Lara Hill’s experiences on the atolls and getting stranded alone on New Year’s Day!

Updated September 23 2016 by Student & Academic Services

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