When Kerry Shoalts (MEd ’21) enrolled in Brock University’s Master of Education (MEd) program four years ago, she knew the degree would directly benefit her work as the University’s Nursing Lab Co-ordinator.
What she didn’t expect, however, was to be using that knowledge to find innovative ways of helping Brock students complete their Nursing degrees during a global pandemic.
Shoalts is one of several Brock employees who graduated Friday, June 18 as part of the University’s virtual Convocation celebration.
Shoalts, who is also a registered nurse, instructs Brock Nursing students using realistic simulations and high-fidelity simulation mannequins that mimic real-life health-care situations, such as a woman giving birth, Code Blue scenarios or the end-of-life care for a palliative patient.
Over the past year, while most of Brock University’s faculty, staff and students were working and learning remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nursing students were in the lab gaining practical experiences in a safe teaching environment. Many experiential education placements in hospitals and other health-care settings were cancelled, so it meant more students were learning through simulation.
“We needed to create innovative learning opportunities so students could continue with their program,” she said. “It motivated me to learn more and seek opportunities to re-imagine learning methodologies in nursing.”
Shoalts and her colleagues created a simulated clinical unit with mock medical and surgical patients. The students were each assigned a patient and required to provide that patient with the same care they would if they were in the hospital.
“We developed charts and the patient/simulator had wounds, drains, IVs and lab reports for students to assess,” Shoalts said. “It was very detailed to immerse the students into an experiential learning environment that was missing from their course this year.”
Like Shoalts, Shufen Xu (BSc ’07, MSc ’10, MBA ’21) also felt that earning a master’s degree would be an asset to the work she does at Brock.
As a Technologist with the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute’s Analytical Services Lab, Xu can accurately measure chemical constitute in wine, such as sugars, alcohol level and methoxypyrazines. Thanks to what she learned by completing a Master of Business Administration (MBA), she now has a more holistic understanding of the industry she serves, too.
In addition to her strong science background, earning her MBA has also given her a solid foundation in marketing and communications; business operations and strategy; finance and accounting practices; and human resources theories.
“Learning the principles of business administration has helped me to understand the wine industry better,” Xu said. “I hope it will add value and improve my ability to meet the demands of industry clients and Brock researchers.”
For Giulia Forsythe (BSc ’04, BEd ’04, MEd ’21), completing a Master of Education in Leadership and Administration aligned with her commitment to supporting open scholarship and promoting more equitable and democratic access to education.
“I wanted to explore barriers to adoption of open practices and how policy could support a shift,” said Forsythe, who is Associate Director of the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation (CPI). “The program gave me a solid foundation in historical constructs of organizations, policy creation and analysis.”
Forsythe started the degree the same year she served as the staff representative on the Board of Trustees.
“The overlap of the theory and practice was extremely relevant in my work in CPI and for my service on the board,” she said.
Applying classroom learning to her real-life career is what motivated Valerie Harris (BBA ’21), Assistant Talent Acquisition Development Specialist with Goodman Career, to complete a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resource Management.
“I chose to pursue this degree as I have always had a passion for helping people,” she said. “I hope to continue my journey in talent acquisition and development as I love interacting with people and being able to see the difference I can make in an individual’s career journey or an organization’s team.”
Harris said being organized was the key to successfully balancing commitments for work, school and her personal life. She prioritized her tasks by creating to-do lists every morning and wrote colour-coded sticky notes to categorize her projects.
“The most important thing for me was to celebrate the little successes,” she added. “Every time I scratched something off my to-do list, I celebrated.”
For Josh Sekel (MBA ’21), balance meant not taking on too many things at once while he was completing a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resource Management.
“I only took one course per semester in order to ensure I could still spend time with my family,” said Sekel, who is a Senior Project Manager for Information Technology Services. “When a large work project came up, I took a year off from studies to ensure I could keep the appropriate balance.”
Shoalts, like all the employee graduates, is grateful to the University for the tuition waiver program that supports staff in the pursuit of their education goals.
“I am proud of my accomplishment, as it was a lifelong goal of mine,” she said. “No matter your age, there is a sense of fulfilment in completing a degree program.”
If you are or know of a Brock employee who graduated during Friday’s Spring Convocation, please contact The Brock News at firstname.lastname@example.org