The late nights, early mornings and balancing act between work and school are finally paying off for the six Brock University employees who are graduating this spring.
After three years of working full-time and focusing on courses, Andrew Bassingthwaighte, Talent Performance Consultant, Co-op Education, will be graduating with a master’s in Social Justice and Equity Studies. His decision to study social justice stemmed from his desire to further his understanding on issues that affect the students he works with every day.
“We strive to help individuals navigate issues that stem from structural, systemic and cultural barriers which they face,” said Bassingthwaighte. “Having a strong understanding of these issues, the theories that relate to them and an awareness of how we can be involved and make a difference is critically important.”
While completing his master”s, Bassingthwaighte’s family adopted three children, which led to many stressful nights, but also provided him with the motivation to complete his program.
Just like Bassingthwaighte and many other Brock employees, Eric Walter, Manager of the Zone Fitness Centre, chose to take advantage of the University’s tuition waiver for staff, and is graduating with his master’s of Business Administration (MBA).
“It would have been a missed opportunity to have not taken advantage of the MBA program,” said Walter. “I have an employer who offers a full tuition waiver, and a supervisor who is supportive and flexible in helping me manage my time. For me to pass up on something that can change my life the way this can and will would be regrettable.”
Walter is saving his celebration for when the Zone expansion project is complete, but is still focusing on the perks that come with his new accomplishment.
“I genuinely feel like having done this, while working full-time, has taught me to be a better manager, a more efficient employee and a stronger professional,” he said. “I’ve gained knowledge and I’ve already seen the benefits in my day-to-day.”
Erica Wortley, Game Day and Events Co-ordinator, Athletics, will be graduating with a bachelor of Sport Management (Honours), with first-class standing.
“I came to Brock specifically for the Sport Management degree knowing that I wanted to pursue a career in athletics,” said Wortley. “I feel very grateful that I am able to begin my career here at Brock while applying my learnings within the institution that taught me.”
Wortley commends Brock for its commitment to providing their employees with the opportunities which help them to succeed, and also emphasized her excitement with Brock’s plan to celebrate the 2020 graduates, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m really looking forward to the Virtual Convocation portal,” said Wortley. “I think it’s so great that they’re giving graduates the opportunity to celebrate and recognize their fantastic achievements.”
Tassia Gabbidon, Administrative Assistant, Department of Earth Sciences, will be graduating with a bachelor in Sociology after choosing a program that focuses on societal privileges and oppression.
“Completing my degree is extremely exciting and I feel a huge sense of pride,” she said.
Gabbidon said that while the journey to getting her degree and working full-time hasn’t been easy, it was worth it.
“If you’re a mature student considering university, it will be immense pressure, followed by sleepless nights, but remember to take a moment to unplug, clear your mind and take the leap of faith in order to achieve your goals,” Gabbidon said.
Susan Docherty-Skippen, Instructor, Faculty of Education, successfully defended her PhD in Educational Studies. She will be continuing her research at Western University where she received a post-doctoral fellowship appointment.
“The thing I appreciated most during my time at Brock,” she said, “is that I was given the creative space to really explore my ideas, challenge my preconceptions and develop new ways to understand human experiences through an interdisciplinary lens.”
Similar to the other Brock employees graduating this week, Jocelyn Baker, Research Assistant, Department of Biological Sciences, said she felt fully supported by the University and co-workers to complete her degree in Sustainability Science and Society.
“As a Niagara resident, I have been aware of how Brock ranks very highly within Canadian universities, and as a student, I have been able to experience this firsthand,” said Baker. “Brock offers so many programs and services. I always attended as many workshops and training opportunities that I could squeeze in.”
Thirty years after graduating from her undergraduate degree, Baker plans on celebrating this achievement quarantine-style.
“My classmates and I are planning on having a virtual champagne toast!” she said.