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Source: University of Canterbury

29 September 2020

Award-winning Podcast and Series Producer at Radio New Zealand, Sonia Yee, reflects on how her experience at UC helped to build her foundations as a passionate storyteller.

  • Sonia Lee graduated with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in American Studies.

One of the most valuable lessons Sonia Yee learned during her time at the University of Canterbury (UC) is that stories are powerful and can be the catalyst for social change.

That understanding, gained during a Bachelor of Arts in Media, Literature and Film Theory, has informed her career since she graduated in 1999, and helped lead to her current role as an award-winning Podcast and Series Producer at Radio New Zealand.

“Studying at UC opened up my pathway to critical thinking and a hunger for knowledge,” Yee says.

Learning about contemporary writers, like Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison, helped build her foundations as a passionate storyteller.

“I loved being exposed to African American writers – it opened up my world as a New Zealand-born Chinese woman, that these writers had experienced serious social and cultural injustice and inequality.

“Stories are so powerful and have the opportunity to create social change. Even on a smaller scale, stories can challenge how we see ourselves and our values.

“Studying media, literature and film also taught me to think analytically and really dissect the way we think about the world, what we read, and what we watch.”

Yee says studying Film Theory at UC also contributed to her vision as a radio documentary producer.

She has won three international awards for her work including two Silver Trophies and one Gold at the New York Festival Radio Awards. The gold award in 2019 was for producing Beyond Kate – an in-depth series celebrating 125 years of women’s suffrage.

The former Mairehau High School and Hagley Community College student encourages young people to seriously consider university study and be guided by what they are passionate about when choosing their courses.

“University really opens you up to a way of thinking and seeing the world. It’s invaluable. I’d recommend that students pick subjects that interest and excite them rather than focusing purely on outcome and career.

“I went into study with curiosity and a desire for knowledge and I got so much out of it. I had no idea I’d end up working in the media. To this day it’s a career that I’ve loved and that has led to some wonderful opportunities.”

Yee is one of several high profile alumni featured in a new UC campaign in Christchurch schools.