Jelena Belenzada: Don't be afraid to find and follow your passion

By Darya Eshaghi

Jelena's hometown: Born in Belgrade, Serbia but grew up in Toronto, Ont.

Jelena, who loves outdoor running, is pictured outside of her London, ON home.

After getting her Bachelor of Arts in Neuroscience from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, 26-year-old Jelena Belenzada worked for a few years before deciding to go to graduate school.

“My path was a little bit convoluted. My undergrad was in neuroscience, so it’s completely different from media studies. I do like science and I was originally on the STEM path, but things changed. After university I ended up with a couple of jobs here and there, but a really transformational job that I had was teaching.”

Jelena taught high school math and physics for two years at a private school. She credits this experience with fueling her interest in the field of communications.

"[Teaching] was just really fun. I really enjoyed cultivating that side of me, figuring out how to communicate in an exciting and engaging way—in the process building meaningful relationships and reinvigorating my own love of the subject."

Jelena’s affinity for teaching sparked her curiosity about careers outside neuroscience labs. She toyed with the idea of becoming a science journalist but ultimately chose to go to graduate school to figure out where her interests lie. In September 2020, she began the Master of Arts in Media Studies program offered through the Faculty of Information and Media Studies.

“I didn’t really enter this program knowing exactly what I wanted to do but I did know that I wanted to reorient my career towards more communications-oriented professions.”

Fun Fact

Jelena speaks five languages: English and French, plus a little Serbian, Spanish and Mandarin.

Jelena thinks that the Media Studies program was the right move for her. It is allowing her to explore subjects and disciplines that she mostly ignored as an undergraduate.

“This is a chance to explore a variety of disciplines together and FIMS is such an intellectually exciting place. It’s an entirely different type of scholarship.”

For the program’s required Independent Research Project component, Jelena is combining her background in science with her interests in communication. Inspired by her time volunteering at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, her project will be looking at how telehealth technologies are used in hospitals, how their use has changed with the COVID-19 pandemic, and how these changes transform medical knowledge and the interpersonal aspects of healthcare.

Profiles in the Meet Our Students section are written by students in the Master of Media in Journalism & Communication program, who are enrolled in MMJC 9604 - Professional Writing.