The Niagara region will be awash with Brock red this fall as new and returning Badgers come together to celebrate Homecoming weekend.
Brock University’s annual Homecoming celebration will take place Friday, Sept. 21 and Saturday, Sept. 22, with festivities happening both on and off campus.
Fan favourites, including class reunions, campus tours and the Steel Blade Classic hockey game, will be back for families to enjoy, in addition to Brock’s increased presence at the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival. The University’s partnership with the popular St. Catharines festival continues to grow, reflecting Brock’s involvement in the local grape and wine industry.
“We are thrilled to celebrate another engaging Homecoming weekend with alumni,” said Shelley Huxley, Director, Alumni Relations. “Our planned events and activities always inspire alumni, their families and the broader community to come together to reconnect, applaud joint achievements and show their Badger pride.”
The weekend provides a chance for Brock to celebrate its close ties with the region’s grape and wine industry through events like the popular campus Grape Stomp — Canada’s messiest university tradition — and the second-annual VIP Alumni Social, held during the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival in downtown St. Catharines.
Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) also invites alumni to learn about wine and cheese during the popular Educate Your Senses seminars. Alumni of the University’s Oenology and Viticulture (OEVI) and Grape and Wine Technology certificate (OEVC) programs often lead these seminars, which have drawn more than 4,000 attendees to Montebello Park since they began 20 years ago.
“It’s great that we have been able to maintain a strong presence at the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival and connect Brock with the wine industry and broader Niagara community,” said the program’s academic advisor Steven Trussler (BSc ’09, BEd ’17), who is an OEVI alumnus himself. “Having our alumni return for the festival to represent the industry and our program really helps to connect and grow the industry to continue making it the success story that it is.”
There have been 176 alumni who have graduated from either the OEVI or OEVC program at Brock, which is the only Canadian university to offer a degree program in grape and wine studies and certificate in grape and wine technology.
Trussler said that small class sizes, experiential learning opportunities and the close connection with CCOVI and the local industry are among the contributing factors to the program’s nearly 90 per cent post-grad employment rate.
Rachel Kvas (BSc ’14), who was recognized in April among the Ontario Hostelry Institute’s Top 30 hospitality and foodservice professionals under the age of 30, attributes her career success to her time at Brock.
“One of the things the program does very well is ensure that you make those industry contacts and get that hands-on exposure to different areas of the wine industry,” said Kvas, who is currently working as the research and development co-ordinator for Arterra Wines Canada. “That community building and work experience makes the program stand out, and ensures that you graduate with a well-rounded classroom education and beneficial work experience, too.”
Although she completed one of her co-op terms abroad in Hungary, Kvas said Niagara truly is home. She was passionate about working in the local wine industry after graduation and is glad to be living and working in the region with her husband, Dan Lonergan, who works in Co-op, Career and Experiential Education at Brock.
“It’s important for me to remain a part of the University and to help students who are now starting their university experience,” she said. “I love the Niagara region and am passionate about the local industry, so it’s important to give back and network with the next generation and others who have gone to Brock.”
The events taking place at Niagara Grape and Wine Festival are a portion of what Homecoming weekend has to offer.
Alumni are encouraged to register early and update their contact information at brocku.ca/alumni to stay informed of upcoming activities.
A full list of Homecoming events and activities is available at brocku.ca/homecoming
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Story by Ana McKnight and Sarah Moore)