New Brock graduates Jasmine Pereira and Reuben Plance have received the Faculty of Education’s Spirit of Brock awards for their leadership and outstanding contributions to the University and their respective communities.
When Plance, recipient of the Graduate Spirit of Brock award, arrived at Brock as an international student, he resolved to avoid extracurricular activities and focus on his work in the master of education program, but after seeing the advantages of connecting with others on campus, quickly became an active member of the Brock community.
“Brock is an environment that encouraged students’ engagement and participation in extracurricular activities,” said Plance. “I just took advantage of it irrespective of the challenges.”
Plance was the Faculty of Education representative on the Board of Directors and Vice-President Internal of the Graduate Student Association (GSA), where organizing events for students became the highlight of his Brock experience.
“It gave me the opportunity to organize events that contributed to shaping the career and academic objectives of grad students, while contributing to their mental health, emotional wellbeing and overall experiences on campus,” he said.
Plance also served on the scholarly planning committees for the SHIFT professional development conference and the Mapping the New Knowledges Graduate Student Research conference. He also volunteered as a peer-to-peer assistant and designed and facilitated workshops with the Office of Human Rights and Equity (HRE).
Off campus, Plance volunteered with Niagara Folks Art events to support the integration of immigrants into the community.
His long-term goal is to return to Ghana and contribute his expertise to the development of the country by working in educational policy development, particularly around technical vocational and education training (TVET).
Plance was one of 15 graduate students involved in a project to review a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization policy document focused on TVET. The group travelled to Grenada as part of the project, where they also delivered Future-Ready Skills workshops for TVET teacher educators and candidates.
Inspired by the trip, Plance focused his master’s research on access to and participation in TVET in marginalized communities. He hopes to continue his research into TVET and its potential benefits for students and communities if he pursues a doctoral degree.
“Although my decision to participate in extracurricular activities was premised on preparing myself for life after school, I am very excited that Brock University recognized my hard work and sacrifices for the period I have been here,” he said. “This award means a lot to me and the next phase of my journey.”
Pereira, recipient of the Undergraduate Spirit of Brock award, enrolled in Brock’s Consecutive Teacher Education program after working as an early childhood educator and social services worker for more than a decade to advance her expertise as an educator.
As a teacher candidate, Pereira found herself balancing a challenging workload with raising three young children. She relied on her Brock colleagues and mentors to cope.
“Having a supportive family and being part of a professional learning community is what really kept me going,” she said. “My colleagues and I learned the importance of collaboration and I really valued how we pushed each other to be stronger professionals.”
Despite the demands on her time, Pereira continued to contribute to Brock and her local community.
She served as the Vice-President and Secretary of the Hamilton Campus Teacher Candidate Council and volunteered with her children’s school councils. She also helped plan the annual Milton Good Neighbours Community Day, which aims to clean up green spaces in the community.
After graduation, Pereira will be working as an occasional teacher with the Halton Catholic District School Board and Waterloo Region District School Board. She will be returning to Brock in the fall to start the master of education program.
As well as the Spirit of Brock award, Pereira received the Abel and Muriel Nightingale Undergraduate Teacher Education Scholarship and the Alpha Delta Kappa International Award.
Reflecting on her journey so far, Pereira advises teacher candidates to persevere.
“The journey as a teacher candidate is far from easy,” she said. “The learning can be challenging and sometimes it’s hard to see the path ahead. However, every time I walked into a classroom and had the opportunity to work with the children, it reminded me of the end goal and how much I’ve always wanted to become a teacher. It took a lot of dedication and hard work, but I feel like I am finally where I’m meant to be.”