First-year experience hits close to home

Rylee Kratz has found everything she was looking for in a university — five minutes from her family home.

Kratz, a first-year Applied Linguistics student from Thorold, has no regrets about her decision to live off campus while attending Brock.

“Everyone tells you that you’ll miss out on the experience if you don’t move away,” she said. “But I am happy I didn’t go away. I have still had the experience, I have made lots of friends and I feel like a part of the Brock community even though I live at home.”

For Kratz, a big part of feeling included in the Brock family began before she started at the University.

“Brock was proactive from the outset of the application process,” she said. “They reached out early and told me about how I could get involved, and they also offered generous scholarship opportunities.”

Upon arriving on campus in September, Kratz was also impressed by the way every member of the Brock community was embraced.

“Compared to high school, there is no judgment, it’s not cliquey, and there are tons of resources and groups for all types of people because we are all here to learn,” she said. “I have not felt there is something I could not join. When events are advertised, they are for everyone.”

Motivated by this feeling of inclusion, Kratz has taken part in numerous activities and clubs, including studying at the Night Against Procrastination, donating blood at campus blood drives, dancing at the O-week paint party and taking a leadership role in the Linguistics Network, a club that provides social and academic events for Linguistics students.

Kratz has also used her local knowledge to enhance the experience of others.

“It’s fun showing my new friends from further away the interesting parts of Niagara,” she said, “especially Niagara Falls.”

Becoming involved and feeling at home at the University took some initial courage and the realization that everyone is starting from scratch.

“I tried not to be afraid of talking to people and to remember that they were probably nervous talking to me as well,” she said. “A lot of people are away from home and they don’t know anyone. In some ways, I have the upper hand and it was good to be able to help them.”

Kratz employed this same outreach approach while volunteering at Brock’s Fall Preview Day alongside two of her professors.

“Professors are not scary either,” she said. “And now they know me by name and can help with my master’s applications in a few years.”

Though her involvement in extracurricular activities has been central to her positive experience, Kratz also found comfort in the help that additional University activities have provided her academically.

“I am not the best at science,” she said. “But the science study group in the (James A. Gibson) Library has been incredible. They have helped me piece my thoughts together and I was kicking myself for not using it sooner. It’s great to have resources like that available to all students.”

Kratz also mentioned the Library’s study rooms and the ample amount of emergency phones around campus as factors that made the University feel both accommodating and safe for off-campus students.

With all of these factors in mind, she offered some final advice to on- and off-campus students who are feeling hesitant to get out of their comfort zones and explore new options. She suggested they participate in as many events and clubs as they can.

“Don’t be afraid to get involved,” she said. “It’s not as scary as you think. It helps you make connections and you will love it.”

Students wishing to get involved in on-campus activities and clubs are encouraged to visit the Student Life Involvement Commons in MCA 204 or the Student Life and Community Experience website to learn more.

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