Start Your Story: How a Trip to Palestine and a Docuseries Led to an Opportunity to Research Islam and Social Media for Bayan Khaled

By Mira Williamson

Bayan's hometown: Doha, Qatar

Bayan Khaled made a short, five-episode docuseries about her recent trip to Palestine.

---

Bayan Khaled didn’t love her job in PR. So, she quit.

After leaving the PR world, she decided to take a trip to Palestine where she created a docuseries and shared it on social media. This led Bayan to being offered a job she couldn’t refuse.

The 24-year-old was discovered by a professor at the College of Islamic Studies in Doha. He asked her to be a guest speaker, then offered her a job as his research fellow.

"The job found me; I didn't find it,” she said.

Since May 2019, Bayan has been researching social media and Islam, and she couldn’t be happier.

"Not many people have studied Islam, influencers and social media,” she said. “I want to see the role of influencers on people. Are people like Huda Beauty actually changing people's thoughts in terms of how they perceive Muslims?"

Bayan was born and raised in Doha by her Palestinian parents. Her parents and three siblings had moved to Canada before she was born, and they returned to Qatar after getting their citizenship.

Fun Fact

Bayan speaks Arabic, English, some French and a little Tagalog, which she continues to develop with help from Filipinos in her community.

She studied business administration at Carnegie Mellon University in Doha. Halfway through her undergrad, Bayan was invited to speak on a radio show as a founding member of the Muslim Student Association. From that moment, she was hooked.

“When I was on-air, it felt amazing. It was such a thrill, and I really liked it,” she said. “I was telling my family about it, and they were like ‘Why don't you just do journalism? It seems like that's your true calling.’"

After discovering her passion for journalism, Bayan decided to pursue a master's-level journalism degree. With some research, Western’s Master of Media in Journalism and Communication program in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies became her top choice.

The program stood out to her because it was only one year with project-based and practical training. It was the only school she applied to. In 2017, Bayan moved to Canada for the first time on her own to attend Western.

She credits the MMJC program with her video and audio editing, interviewing and infographic design skills. She uses these skills for many of her personal projects, including her docu-series on Palestine.

“I hope one day I can gain enough followers to influence people positively. I really care a lot about clearing stereotypes and misinterpretations of Muslims and Arabs.”

The advanced media training from Western’s communication and journalism master’s degree also helped prepare Bayan for many professional tasks in her career. She said she used her MMJC training for her internships at Al Jazeera and AJ+, and in her current full-time position.

At risk of sounding “cheesy,” Bayan misses gathering at The Grad Club on campus with her fellow students.

“We would stay up late and work on our videos—everyone would complain like 'oh I have so much work.’ I was thinking at the time that I know when we're done with all of this and we're working, we're going to be remembering these times, and we're going to wish we could go back,” she said. “And I was right.”

The MMJC program has allowed many students to launch successful careers in journalism, communications, marketing and other media-focused industries. If you’re interested in starting your media career, apply to Western’s MMJC program to Start Your Story!

Profiles in the Start Your Story blog are written by students in the Master of Media in Journalism & Communication program, who are enrolled in MMJC 9604 - Professional Writing.