What’s Your Why: Personal Connection in Stories

In this installment What’s Your Why, a blog series aimed at highlighting the importance of connecting back to the “why” that drives you and the work you are involved in. Our Digital Content Writer, Katherine, reflects on the importance of connecting with people through writing stories in an unlikely place. We hope this story inspires you to take a moment to reflect on your own individual “why”.   

The Digital Content Writer at the Innovation Hub plans and develops the blog, and website, and collaborates with all current projects to convey our work in an accessible and engaging way.  

Katherine slightly smiling in a selfie outdoors

Written by: Katherine Zheng, Digital Content Writer 

Applying and working at the Innovation Hub has been a massive step out of my comfort zone and has helped me learn and experience things I would never have been able to. Coming from an English and creative writing background, at first, I felt like an outsider in a qualitative data-focused environment. But what the Innovation Hub has shown me is that data and creativity are not mutually exclusive, and in fact, emphasize the importance of merging them together. We aren’t creating stories out of nothing, but rather shining a light on what is already there, creating a story that people can relate to and understand, in a way that numbers and charts cannot.  

Discovering New Connections 

hand holding interconnecting circles with three people and a heart

When I first applied for the role of Digital Content Writer, I was nervous because I had never done any writing quite like at the Innovation Hub. At U of T, I had grown accustomed to staying within a certain community at school, but the Innovation Hub has connected me with people that I otherwise wouldn’t have met. I’m grateful to be able to hear the insights, thoughts, and feelings of people with different experiences and expertise and learn from them.  

My role is not just writing content, but amplifying the stories I’ve heard, sharing new perspectives, and being a part of a community that strives for change. It has given me an opportunity to learn and branch out in ways I never thought I would. It’s not only given me skills in writing, but also shown me the importance of connecting with people through stories. Before the Innovation Hub, I thought of data as something that had to be objective and statistical, but in actuality, we emphasize the importance of crafting a story.  

The Importance of Storytelling 

a heart in the center connected to three people

What initially surprised me about the Innovation Hub was the emphasis on storytelling to show data. Sharing students’ personal anecdotes and experiences will always be more memorable than looking at a chart full of numbers. I’ve always thought of research and data as something that had to be objective, empirical evidence. But I’ve seen how much of an impact hearing directly from students and their experiences can have, and the change that is brought by storytelling. 

As I spend more time as the Digital Content Writer, I’ve realized how the Innovation Hub stands out in its work and values by putting the emphasis on students and stories in research. The Innovation Hub has shown me the importance of storytelling in data and given me opportunities to write in new and innovative ways. I’ve always been used to creating my own stories in writing, but I’ve begun to learn how I can craft stories on what has already been said and create an impact with information that is accessible to everyone.  

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