Employee Feature: Carolyn Hough

Note: The Brock Employee Feature is a Q&A-style series that aims to highlight those who contribute to the University’s positive working environment and make a difference in the campus community. The full series is available on The Brock News. Employees interested in being featured are asked to fill out an online form.

Often recognized by her curly hair and signature laugh, Carolyn Hough (MEd ’21) has been a smiling face welcoming students to Brock University for the past five years.

The self-proclaimed bookworm interacts with hundreds of people a week as the Acting Manager, Residence Life, a role she transitioned to this past April from Residence Life Co-ordinator.

This time of year, she and her team are busy getting ready to welcome thousands of students who will make Brock their new home and community.

Which department do you work for?

I work for the Department of Residences, which is responsible for all on-campus living in our eight residence buildings, housing approximately 2,700 students at full capacity. Most students who live on campus are first-year students, so living in residence is an incredibly important part of the University experience that helps connect incoming students to campus life and resources that set them up for academic success.

What does your role involve and what do you like about it?

As Acting Manager, Residence Life, I oversee the Residence Life management team, which consists of five Residence Life Co-ordinators and two Transition and Support Co-ordinators. The Residence Life Co-ordinators supervise a team of student staff (11 Head Residents and 81 Residence Dons), who work as peers to support residence students in their transition to Brock through community building, one-on-one connections, and maintaining safety and security. The Transition and Support Co-ordinators work directly with residence students in developing mental health and wellness strategies and support networks. My job is never boring, and there’s always a new challenge or a new problem to solve, which keeps me on my toes.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

One of my favourite parts of my job is seeing the growth and development of our student staff. Many of them work with us for multiple years and seeing them come into their own as leaders and as people is incredibly rewarding. I learned and grew so much during my time as a student staff member (at Wilfrid Laurier); it shaped who I am as a person and has also shaped my current career path.

What do you like about working at Brock?

A woman bends down to pose for a photo with a dog at a humane society adoption event. Behind her are pet cages on display as well as a pullup banner advertising a Pet Smart membership.

Carolyn Hough volunteers her time with Lincoln County Humane Society.

I like how small Brock feels (even though it’s not really). I always see someone I know or someone I work with, and everyone is always willing to work together to find solutions and to find better ways to support students.

Are you a Brock graduate? What drew you here?

In May 2021, I graduated with a Brock Master of Education focusing on socio-cultural contexts. I have always loved school, so having a tuition waiver as part of our employee benefits is a huge bonus in my endless pursuit of being a student. I’m currently taking a break from school, but I know I’ll be back (with what, who knows).

Do you volunteer with any community organizations?

I have volunteered with the Lincoln County Humane Society (LCHS) dog socialization program since 2018. When I moved to Niagara in 2017, I knew I wanted to find ways to be involved with my community, and I’ve always loved animals, so LCHS was the perfect fit. I spend a few hours every Tuesday evening at LCHS bringing the adoptable dogs out into the dog runs for exercise and playtime. I also sometimes bring dogs to adoption events. It is incredibly fun, and my friends, family and co-workers all know that Tuesday night is ‘puppy night’ and have grown to expect videos and photos of the adorable adoptable dogs.

My experience at LCHS also inspired me to start fostering dogs with Pets Alive Niagara and Happy’s Place. Fostering involves having an adoptable dog live with you temporarily (as opposed to a shelter environment) while they are waiting or preparing to be adopted. So far, I’ve fostered two very different dogs, and I’m looking forward to welcoming more dogs into my home this fall.

What do you do for fun? What are your interests and hobbies?

I love spending time with family and friends trying new restaurants, wineries and breweries, which is one of the reasons I fell in love with Niagara. I am also an avid reader (my goal is to read 30 books this calendar year, and so far, I’m on track with 17), and particularly love spending time reading on my porch swing. I enjoy being active, having played recreational soccer most of my life, and after a COVID hiatus, have enjoyed being back in my Sunday night league. I will take activity in almost any form (walk, hike, run, yoga, Pilates, etc.), and have a three-year streak of being active for at least 30 minutes a day.

Where is your favourite place to visit or spend time in Niagara?

Oh, how do you choose? Lakeside Park/Beach is definitely high up on the list, particularly for the sunsets. I also consistently enjoy hiking the Grimsby and Stoney Creek sections of the Bruce Trail, as well as the Welland Canals Parkway Trail.

How would others describe you? What are you known for?

I was recently described as a ‘human laugh track,’ which is to say I have an easy laugh. Almost any dad joke, pun, slip of the tongue, slight disaster or amusing anecdote will get a genuine giggle out of me. I’m also someone who doesn’t really do things halfway. If it matters to me, or I think something or someone is important, I won’t let it slide or let it go, and I’ll give it my all. I’m also probably known for my curly hair.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

In my undergrad I was stressed about a mark in a French grammar course, and at the time the idea of not doing well in a class (or failing a class) felt world ending. My dad was trying to convince me that this, while unfortunate, was not a life-changing crisis, by sharing that he had to repeat a class during his engineering undergrad. He did this by simply stating, “sometimes you have to take heat and mass transfer twice.” The sentiment of the statement — that things don’t always go to plan or aren’t easy the first time, that everyone has stumbling blocks (even your dad, who seems to have it all together), or that not everything that seems big will have a lasting impact on your life — has always stuck with me (unlike the mark I finished with in that French grammar course).

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