As she walked a parade route surrounded by dozens of members of her new Brock family and cheered on by thousands of spectators, Kelsey Drabsch knew Niagara was a community she was proud to be a part of.
The 22-year-old from Canberra, Australia is spending the Fall Term nearly 16,000 kilometres from home studying Sport Management at Brock.
To make the most of her short time in Niagara, Drabsch is using the Campus-Wide Co-Curriculum (CWC) program as a guide to the many opportunities on offer, including walking with the University’s delegation in the Meridian Grande Parade during last month’s Niagara Grape and Wine Festival.
Started in 2014, the CWC program aims to help students have a well-rounded experience by connecting them to various areas and initiatives throughout the University and broader community. The 67 activities available to complete are divided into 10 domains to make it easier to track progress and maintain a full participation record.
Though most students finish the CWC in four years, Drabsch researched the program before she arrived and has set a blazing pace to complete as many of the activities as she can before returning to Australia in late December.
Having finished nearly one-eighth of the program so far, Drabsch said the CWC has been a catalyst to explore her new surroundings.
“It has given me a reason and extra push to get involved,” she said. “Without the CWC, I wouldn’t have gone to the parade, or other events. If you know you are going to get something out of participating, it’s even more motivation to get involved. Without the CWC, I would not know that half of these events existed.”
Another highlight for Drabsch was watching the annual Steel Blade hockey game at the Meridian Centre in downtown St. Catharines.
“The school spirit was unbelievable,” she said of the signature Homecoming weekend event. “Seeing everyone come together and experiencing the tradition felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Scarlet Stark, Brock’s Co-curricular Engagement Co-ordinator, said the CWC is a valuable addition to domestic and exchange students’ academic records.
“The program complements the learning happening inside the classroom, and provides the opportunity for students to become more involved with their community during their time at Brock,” she said. “Once they are done, it also sets them up for success in the workplace thanks to the skill development and networking associated with many of the activities.”
Drabsch has focused on her own skill development by participating in academic preparation exercises to improve her writing and others that make up the CWC’s career preparation domain, where she has learned about the event planning industry and inquired about professional growth opportunities.
After discovering so much about the University in a relatively short amount of time, Drabsch hopes other exchange students will follow her example and use the CWC program as a stepping-stone into a more involved university experience.
“It helps you to meet new people and gets you out of your comfort zone,” she said. “I’ve been able to help out in the community and network with departments as well. It creates a lot of familiar faces.”
Though her term in the Northern Hemisphere is already half over, Drabsch said she will take the spirit of Brock University as well as her CWC records with her when she returns to her studies in Australia next year.
“We don’t have the same school spirit at home,” she said. “I wish I could just take Brock back home with me. All of the available resources and supports have made university life so much easier.”
To learn more about the CWC program, visit the ExperienceBU website.