This fall, the University’s Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies (RECL) marked its 40th anniversary.
In the months leading up to the celebration, the RECL 40@40 social media campaign on Instagram and Twitter recognized the accomplishments and growth of the department and its grads by highlighted a graduate from each year since 1982. With graduates leading in communities, fitness centres, arenas, provincial parks, offices, hospitals, municipalities the project has illustrated to incoming and current students the bredth of opportunities that await them after graduation.
Our Alumni Through The Decades
John Macdonald, BRLS 1982
Current Role: National Director (Anglican Network in Canada)
Wisdom to share with current students: “I achieved the highest marks in the graduating class of 1982! Yes, I must admit that I was the only graduate in 1982.”
Greg Maychak, BRLS 1983
Current Role: President GM Consulting & Bid Manager Hamilton100 Commonwealth Games at GM SPORTS CONSULTING,
Wisdom to share with current students: “Others may tell you, you can’t or won’t succeed but those who have tried hard and took risks!”
Dave Derry, BRLS 1984
Current Role: Domestic Development Officer – Sport Technical (DDO-ST), Rowing Canada
Wisdom to share with current students: “RECL may initially appear to be a fairly narrow discipline but the more you learn in it you can learn that the skills can be applied in other fields.”
Brenda Herchmer, BRLS 1986
Current Role: CEO of a social enterprise called Campus for Communities of the Future.
Wisdom to share with current students: “The most important part of a RECL undergraduate degree, and what makes it unique, is that it set us up to be generalists rather than specialists. In other words, our niche wasn’t a narrow one and we ended up learning a little about a lot of different things e.g. quality of life, programming, community building, marketing, communications, planning, hr.”
Carol Phillips, BRLS 1987
Current Role: Associate Dean, School of Community Services for Niagara College.
Wisdom to share with current students: “My RECL undergraduate degree helped me to understand how my favourite things in life – sports, recreation, and community service – could lead me to a series of wonderful work and life opportunities.”
Michael Berrisford, BRLS 1989
Current Role: Editor-In-Chief, Ecotone Publishing, International Living Future Institute (British Columbia/WA)
Wisdom to share with current students: “Every position I’ve held in my career whether it was in tourism or publishing ties back to health, wellness and a love of nature; all nurtured through RECL. I am grateful to have experienced the RECL program.”
Dr. Leslie Raymore Watson, BRLS1990
Current Role: President, Watson College Counseling, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
Wisdom to share with current students: “The enthusiastic faculty in RECL introduced me to research, taught me how to write in an academic context, and started me on the path to earning a doctorate.”
Kelly Griffin Reichheld, BRLS 1992
Current Role: Manager, Sport & Community Development, City of Mississauga.
Wisdom to share with current students: “As your career progresses pay attention to the people that work with you and measure success in the accomplishments of your team and colleagues.”
Dr. Heather Clark, BRLS 1993
Current Role: Professor/Coordinator, Niagara College, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.
Wisdom to share with current students: “The independent research project in the final year of the program definitely sparked a passion for inquiry and research which I use in my current role as a Professor.”
Tracy Schmitt, BRLS 1995
Current Role: #1 International keynote speaker.
Wisdom to share with current students: “Facilitating team building and group dynamics building, with diligence and perseverance, founded in research were crucial skills that my RECL undergraduate degree provided. These skills directly inform the work I do every day!”
Beth Plato-Giles, BRLS 1997
Current Role: Long-Term Care Administrator.
Wisdom to share with current students: “I learned to “plan, implement and evaluate” recreation programming. This method has helped me with my various roles since leaving Brock. As a leader in any field, you are always planning for the next opportunity, while evaluating what you have just implemented.”
Rob Axiak, BRLS 1997
Current Role: Director of Community Services, City of Welland, ON
Wisdom to share with current students: “Community Development is more of an art than it is a science, and applying these skills throughout my career has helped to leverage community assets, create champions in the community I worked in, and ultimately provide recreational opportunities for the public to enjoy.”
Heather Savage, BRLS 1999
Current Role: Director of Community Services, Town of Caledon, ON / Part-Time Professor, Recreation and Leisure Studies, Humber College, Toronto, ON
Wisdom to share with current students: “The undergraduate education I received from Brock inspired me to take chances and find a solution, even if it was unconventional.”
Bryan Grimwood, BRLS 2000
Current Role: Associate Professor and Associate Chair of Graduate Studies, Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies, University of Waterloo.
Wisdom to share with current students: “My RECL undergraduate degree prepared me with the necessary knowledge (e.g., from theoretical to applied), skills (e.g., communication, critical thinking, program planning), and values (e.g., justice, sustainability) to consistently ask questions, collaborate, find beauty in the world, follow passions, pursue curiosities, and strive to make a difference within my family, community, and workplace.”
Carolyn Triemstra, BRLS 2001
Current Role: Dean of Community & Health Studies at Niagara College.
Wisdom to share with current students: “This degree provides the educational background to work with various populations and fields. The experiential nature of the program supports personal growth and community involvement.”
Dr. Ann Grimwood, BRLS 2003
Current Role: Naturopathic doctor, and core academic and clinical faculty member at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, Boucher Campus in New Westminster, BC
Wisdom to share with current students: “The RECL degree provided an avenue for me to pursue my interests of the outdoors and human health while receiving a formal education. The program introduced me to advanced research skills and taught me how to think critically.”
AJ Leeming, BRLS 2004
Current Role: Senior Manager, Programs & Services. Conservation Halton.
Wisdom to share with current students: “Working in recreation at this level of leadership requires a balance of people & business skills. My time at Brock & the opportunities I was able to engage through those years allowed me to develop both”
Chris Poos, BRLS 2006
Current Role: Executive Director, Niagara Long Term Care Residence, Niagara on the Lake, Ontario.
Wisdom to share with current students: “I believe that my degree in Therapeutic Recreation has taught me to find ways to make things possible when others may give up.”
Katie Novak, BRLS 2007
Current Role: Global Brand & Content Manager & Education Strategist
Wisdom to share with current students: “Say yes. Even if you’re not sure if you can do something – say yes. You’ll figure it out, and be better for it. Always take opportunities for growth and keep evolving”
Angela Rose, BRLS 2008
Current Role: Manager, Special Events SickKids Foundation Toronto, Ontario
Wisdom to share with current students: “My undergraduate degree landed me roles in non-profit organizations, overseeing child and youth programs at various Boys and Girls Clubs, where I was responsible to manage programs and events and oversee staff and volunteers. This work propelled me into health charities, where I learned I had a keen interest in fundraising and events. I believe my first roles in recreation helped me to build the leadership, strategy, and innovation I use daily in my current role”
Justine Wilmot, BRLS 2010
Current Role: Physical Education Teacher at Erickson Elementary School in Erickson Manitoba, Canada
Wisdom to share with current students: “Get involved in as much as you can because this allows you to network. Having a good network of personal and professional support will always lend a hand. A friend I made when volunteering on the Rec Council later became my primary contact in Canmore AB.”
Dr. Lauren Cripps, BRLS 2011
Current Role: Education Director and President-Elect for Canadian Therapeutic Recreation Association. Interim Editor in Chief for the Canadian Journal of Recreation Therapy. Manager of Learning Solutions and Adjunct professor at Brock University
Wisdom to share with current students: “Brock’s TR program is among the best in the country and the training I received put me several steps ahead when first entering the workforce.”
Dr Cait Wilson, BRLS 2012
Current Role: I am a Senior Manager of Customer Insights on the marketing team at ŌURA.
Wisdom to share with current students: “Brock was the first place I was able to blend my passion for health/wellness in my personal life with research and vocation. My time at Brock was a big light bulb moment for me and gave me reassurance that I was on the right career path.”
Randy Elgersma, BRLS 2013
Current Role: Firefighter, Bermuda Fire & Rescue Service, Bermuda and Real Estate Agent, Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty.
Wisdom to share with current students: “Go for it, the faculty are great and will support you the whole way.”
Courtney Copoc, BRLS 2014
Current Role: I work for the Squamish Nation, traditionally called Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I am the Nations Post-Secondary Student Advocate, working within the Ta7lnew̓ás (Education, Employment & Training) Department.
Wisdom to share with current students: “Successfully completing an undergraduate degree was a milestone for me – and my family. It has truly been a launching pad into my future pursuits. RECL focuses on community collaboration, health, wellness, and the importance of a balanced well-being.”
Sherry-Lynn Servage, BRLS 2015
Current Role: General Manager of Parks, Recreation and Culture. Township of South Glengarry, Ontario.
Wisdom to share with current students: “All opportunities that you take are important and will be a stepping stone that will get you to where you want to be. Whether it’s through showing your work ethic, having a good reference for that next job, or being considered for future opportunities because of your commitment and initiative.”
Marek Holke, BRLS 2016
Current Role: Program Manager, Lifesaving Society Entrepreneur & Business Owner Course Instructor at Brock University and Humber College
Wisdom to share with current students: “The program was a paradigm shift for me that really helped to explore my “why” including the exploration of theoretical applications for recreation and leisure through the lens of building and developing agency from within the community.”
Tina Tytko, BRLS 2017
Current Role: Owner & CTRS at Thrive Therapeutic Recreation in Niagara Falls.
Wisdom to share with current students: “Earning my RECL degree taught me so much. Not only in learning about research or in the structure of the work I did in school but most importantly in the content of the courses. One course I took was Financing Community Recreation Services. I use what I learned in that course, every two weeks when I invoice my clients and manage Thrive TR’s finances”
Jessica Lewis, BRLS 2018
Current Role: Para Athlete – representing Bermuda at international competitions since 2011 in ParaAthletics.
Wisdom to share with current students: “One of the things that I loved the most about completing my RECL undergraduate degree at Brock was how so many of the courses provided opportunities for us to apply what we were learning into real-life settings through different placements and the 15-week internship as the last credit.”
Cameron Evanoff, BRLS 2019
Current Role: Supervisor, Facility Operations, City of Mississauga, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.
Wisdom to share with current students: “My BRLS degree fulfills the training requirements for further management-level positions.”
Ruby Bebrouwer, BRLS 2020
Current Role: Manager of Recreation and Activities at Harbour Hill Retirement Home and Apartments in Goderich Ontario
Wisdom to share with current students: “By learning real-life, practical roles and information in the classroom I have been able to transfer that directly to the workplace.”
Rachel Blair, BRLS 2021
Current Role: Recreation Therapist, CTRS, Inpatient Mental Health and Addictions, Toronto Ontario, CA, Unity Health Toronto, St. Joseph’s Hospital .
Wisdom to share with current students: “With a concentration in Therapeutic Recreation, my degree has prepared me with the foundational knowledge, skills, experiences, and confidence to pursue my career as a Recreation Therapist working within a mental health setting.”