When Julie Sun-Kyung Simmonds began her studies at Brock University in 2015, she was focussed on just one thing: her academics.
“I was on a mission with a one-track mind,” says Simmonds. “I never anticipated the people that I would meet, the friendships that I would make along the way, or the many wonderful experiences that I would have.”
Simmonds, who has graduated with an honours bachelor of arts in Classics, came to Brock as a mature student after her children left home.
“I had been working with my husband, a contractor, for 10 years,” she says. “I felt that it was the right time to go back to school and change my career.”
Her experience at Brock went beyond just academics. She has been a regular presence in the Department of Classics and at events across campus, as well as volunteering in the community. She is this year’s undergraduate recipient of the Spirit of Brock medal for the Faculty of Humanities.
“Julie’s dedication to both academics in the classroom and service outside the classroom makes her a very deserving recipient of the Spirit of Brock award,” says Department of Classics Chair Angus Smith.
“Besides being a top academic student in the department, Julie volunteered to be part of our Peer Mentor program, which makes our upper year students available for consultations to students for academic advice about everything from essay writing to Latin and Ancient Greek grammar.”
Simmonds, who also volunteered with the Brock University Archaeology Society, found time to go above and beyond in her coursework. In 2018, for no extra credit, she reworked a class assignment into an exhibition titled “The Courtesan at the Feast” at the department’s Cypriot Museum.
While completing the Campus-Wide Co-curriculum, Simmonds has volunteered for events such as the Vendor Fair in Welcome Week, Move-In Day and campus blood drives.
“One of my favourite activities was dressing up as Boomer, Brock’s mascot, for the Niagara-on-the-Lake Santa Clause parade,” she says. “Never in a million years would I ever have dreamed that I would dress up as the school mascot!”
As event co-ordinator for the Golden Key Brock Chapter, Simmonds was a key part of the team that brought Golden Key’s national CANCON Leadership Summit to Niagara Falls in 2019.
When she wasn’t busy studying for her Classics courses or volunteering at Brock, Simmonds could be found volunteering with the Fenwick Lionesses, which she joined after her daughters Kira and Megan had left home for university.
“As a service club, we raise funds which are then donated to help organizations within our community,” says Simmonds. “I enjoy the time I spend with my fellow Lionesses in volunteerism and socially.”
Simmonds is glad she stepped out of her comfort zone and got involved in the activities and opportunities Brock has to offer, and thankful for the support she has had from her husband and family.
“All these experiences enriched my life through the people and friends I made along the way,” she says. “I no longer confine myself to a certain notion of what to expect and what must be done to get from point A to point B.”
Simmonds will be carrying her new outlook into her next academic adventure as a law student.
“Keeping an open mind and considering all the opportunities and possibilities that are available with any endeavour in life is my new outlook when approaching a new venture,” she says.