Longtime journalism instructor retires after three decades at Langara

Isobel Mackenzie BC Seniors Advocate
Journalism instructor Rob Dykstra will be retiring this June after 32 years. Photo by Les Bazso

March 31, 2016

By JAKE WRAY

When Rob Dykstra took a job as a journalism instructor at Langara College in 1984, he only planned to stay for two or three years. He ended up staying for 32.

Before he started at Langara, Dykstra worked as a journalist for over a decade. He started teaching because he wanted a break from the long hours and extreme stress that accompany news writing. He planned to return to news writing, but that didn’t happen. In June, he’s set to retire.

“It’s not because I just decided to perch myself here [at Langara] because it was a nice, comfortable place to be,” Dykstra said.

“Dealing with the journalism students has been very stimulating.”

Dykstra remembered fondly by past students

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The first issue of the Langara Journalism Review. Dykstra founded the magazine 20 years ago. Photo by Jake Wray

Twenty years ago, Dykstra founded the Langara Journalism Review, an annual magazine produced by Langara journalism students that examines the journalism industry. Ash Kelly, a Langara journalism graduate, said working on last year’s edition of the magazine with Dykstra was a valuable learning opportunity.

“He really did make me a better writer, he really encouraged me to get my stories out there, and I’d say I wrote two of the best stories I’ve ever written in his class. He’s so encouraging,” Kelly said.

Jason Proctor, a CBC reporter who studied journalism at Langara in the early 90s, and lauded Dykstra for being good role model.

“A career is more than just what you think you might like to do, it’s also [about] the kinds of people that you work with,” Proctor said.

“You kind of look and think ‘OK, you know what, I can see myself working [like], or being [like] this type of person’.”

New adventures for Dykstra 

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Dykstra plans to spend his retirement sailing on his boat. Photo by Les Bazso

After retirement, Dykstra said he plans to work in his garden, try beekeeping and, most importantly, spend lots of time on his sailboat.

“I like being on the water. I feel comfortable on the water. I feel, when I’m standing on shore looking at the water I kind of feel a bit melancholy — I feel like I’m in the wrong place,” Dykstra said.

“I’ve sailed since I was about 12 years old…there’s something magic about it.”

Article originally appeared in The Langara Voice

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