For Brock graduate Aly Bailey, getting a PhD wasn’t just about developing a quality dissertation, it was about giving back to the community she lived and worked in.
When Bailey conferred Monday morning and joined her Applied Health Sciences colleagues on stage, she was recognized with the Board of Trustees Spirit of Brock award for her contributions to the Brock community, over and above her academic accomplishments.
“It is such an honour to be selected for the Spirit of Brock award,” Bailey says. “I have had such a positive Brock experience and felt so supported every step of the way, that it made it really easy for me to succeed.”
The Board of Trustees Spirit of Brock award is given to students who demonstrate leadership, innovation, courage, inspiration and community involvement. In addition to Bailey, Kinesiology graduate James John Hall also received the Spirit of Brock award recognizing his numerous volunteer positions and academic achievements as an undergraduate student.
Bailey (MA ‘14), from Richmond Hill, has spent the last four years working with select members of the Brock-Niagara Centre for Health and Well-Being to create a positive body image program for people who have been historically ignored in body image literature: older adults, those with physical disability and chronic conditions.
“I identify as an action-researcher,” Bailey says. “This means that my participants have an immediate stake in my research and create and design the project alongside of me to ensure that it is relevant and appropriate to their needs.”
Some of the volunteer activities Bailey undertook included; holding guest talks on the value of working with participants in research, helping students prepare proposals and applications for tri-council funding, and mentorship of undergraduate thesis students. She also taught yoga at the Brock-Niagara Centre and led the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences Holiday Adopt-a-Family campaign for three years in a row.
“I feel like Brock does a good job of showcasing the calibre of students here, especially being a smaller university,” Bailey says. “The additional opportunities have also helped me in my teaching because many of my students already recognized me coming into the classroom and gave me a lot of respect and acknowledgement for my involvement.”
Bailey, who has already secured a post-doctoral position at Guelph University, acknowledges that being a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) recipient has enabled her to pursue her goal of staying in academia.
“I feel so fortunate to have my own funding,” Bailey says. “Being a SSHRC-funded researcher has enabled me to take my career to the next level. The path I have chosen is so competitive and getting my first-choice supervisor is huge for me as I move to the next phase.”
Hall spent three academic years as President of Kinesiology Students’ Association, was involved with the Brock University Students’ Union as Chief Returning Officer and Faculty representative and a volunteer at the Brock-Niagara Centre for Health and Well-Being’s PowerCord program.
“The Spirit of Brock award is such an honour for me because it is a reflection of everything, I have tried to put into the Brock community over the past five years,” says the Burlington native. “I have been involved in a diversity of initiatives and have been fortunate to have been mentored by FAHS Dean Peter Tiidus, Kinesiology Professor Brian Roy and Health Sciences Associate Professor Madelyn Law, who helped provide me with strategic direction as I strived to meet my goals.”
Hall reflects that throughout his academic journey at Brock, he ensured his volunteer activities were inter-related and built on the overarching themes of health and exploring various facets of institutional structures.
“Initially, I thought I wanted to pursue medical school, but after participating in Brock’s MedPlus program, going on a medical mission with the SEA Program in Peru and becoming involved in I-Equip, each opportunity built a doorway to the next and I’ve shifted my focus to wanting to pursue a career in health administration, which is better suited to my skills,” Hall says. “This may not have been the case if I hadn’t participated in the experiential education programs that were made available to me throughout my degree program.”
Hall is also the recipient of the 2019 Brock University Students’ Union Graduating Student Award and has been accepted to Dalhousie University for the Law and Master of Health Administration combined degree program, which he will begin in September.
“Today, as this chapter of my life ends and I prepare for my next step, I don’t feel like I missed any opportunity,” Hall says. “My Brock experience has been very rewarding. I feel like I’ve had a lot of growth along way and left no stone unturned.”