Memorial award sends Classics student to overseas digs

Sydney Bryk’s face lit up as she shared with Terry Varcoe stories of her archaeological adventures in Italy.

The Classics Master of Arts student regaled the former Brock University Vice-President, Administration with tales of her excavations in Pompeii and Marzamemi — both made possible through an award endowed in honour of Terry’s late wife.

Francesca Patten (MA ’18) and Sydney Bryk (BA ’18) excavating in Pompeii. Bryk used the Trine Varcoe Memorial Award to gain excavation experience this past summer at The Venus Pompeiana Project, a collaboration between the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, Mount Allison University and the University of Missouri.

The Trine Varcoe Memorial Award, named for the beloved Brock alumna, is given annually to an undergraduate student pursuing an approved classical studies abroad program. It is department’s largest award.

The Varcoes’ lives were intertwined with Brock for decades beginning in 1965, as they married only five months after Terry began his 37-year career with the University.

He felt it only fitting that after Trine’s sudden death in 2002 that she be remembered in a meaningful way at her alma mater.

It was after taking interest in a course with Classics Professor David Rupp that Trine (BA ’86), who already had a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, opted to pursue an honours degree in Classics.

When it came time to decide which University department would receive the award in her name, Terry said it was an “easy choice” given how much Trine enjoyed her Classics experience.

Professor Richard Parker recommended the award be used to help students travel to work on archaeological digs and the concept resonated with Terry.

“Although Trine had not been on a dig, I knew this would appeal to her,” Terry said. The Varcoes had travelled to both Greece and Turkey and Trine had enjoyed visiting many archaeological sites.

Bryk (BA ’18) was thankful for the opportunities the award provided and was touched by the chance to share her gratitude with Terry directly during his visit to campus earlier this month.

“The award allowed me to follow my dream of being an archaeologist,” she said. “Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to go away on the excavations in Italy last spring and summer.”

Bryk excavated in Pompeii with a team from Mount Allison University and then worked on the Marzamemi Maritime Heritage Project with Brock’s Associate Professor Elizabeth Greene. This project involves the underwater excavation of a shipwreck that sank while carrying prefabricated architectural elements for an early Byzantine church in the sixth century AD.

“It was so nice to hear Terry speak about his late wife and her passion for Classics,” Bryk said. “It really made me reflect upon his donation and be even more grateful for the experiences I’ve had because of it.

“I think that Trine Varcoe would be happy to see what we have been doing in her memory.”

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