Spirit of Brock recipients go the distance for community

Their university experiences may have been different, but this fall’s Spirit of Brock recipients share one important commonality: commitment to community.

Master of Science in Applied Health Sciences graduate Daislyn Vidal (BSc ’19), and Bachelor of Arts in Psychology graduate Cassandra Campanella were recognized for their efforts during the University’s 112th Convocation on Friday, Oct. 14.

Vidal and Campanella were each honoured with the Board of Trustees Spirit of Brock medal, presented to graduates who have demonstrated qualities of leadership, courage, innovation, inspiration and community involvement.

An international student from Dominica, Vidal contributed to a wide variety of campus organizations during her studies.

In addition to her time as President of Brock’s chapter of the Golden Key Honour Society, Vidal worked with the Brock African Heritage Committee and the President’s Advisory Committee on Human Rights, Equity and Decolonization, and continues to work with the University’s Anti-racism Task Force. She also spent a term as the Vice-President, International for the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA), creating its inaugural Cultural Integration Week, which she hopes will continue well into the future.

“A lot of my community involvement has been centred around cultural integration, helping international students and working with anti-racism and decolonization groups on campus — all areas I’m passionate about,” Vidal says.

Her personal experiences, she adds, have helped to drive her involvement.

“I remember the struggles I faced as an international student connecting with people — domestic and international students alike,” she says. “I really wanted to help bridge that gap and help others who found themselves in a similar situation.”

Receiving the Spirit of Brock medal was the “perfect way to complete my journey at Brock,” Vidal says. “It means the world to me to be recognized and I hope it inspires people to pursue their passion and their purpose.”

Now with her master’s degree complete, she hopes to dive into a health or medicine research career that will help to boost community health.

“I want to inspire people to live healthier lives, and to explore preventative plans and mechanisms for different diseases and conditions that people face,” she says.

Vidal currently volunteers with Niagara Health as a patient partner, helping to bring a patient’s perspective into different initiatives undertaken by the organization.

Faculty of Applied Health Sciences Dean Peter Tiidus says Vidal’s involvement both on and off campus has helped to better both the Brock and wider Niagara community.

“Daislyn’s drive to help others and create a better world for all is truly an inspiration,” he says. “I look forward to seeing all that she accomplishes in this new chapter of her life.”

A woman in a blue robe and a red medallion stands next to a man in a black and red robe in front of a red curtain.

Bachelor of Arts in Psychology graduate Cassandra Campanella was honoured with the Board of Trustees Spirit of Brock medal during the University’s 112th Convocation.

With her own unique blend of determination, enthusiasm and ability to inspire others, Campanella has also embodied the spirit of Maj.-Gen. Sir Isaac Brock since she first arrived on campus.

In first year, the Honours Psychology Co-op student, with a Women’s and Gender Studies minor, quickly began volunteering as a lab participant and, in time, contributed to three different master’s thesis projects.

The varsity soccer player also led seminars as a facilitator for the Body Project and worked as a research assistant with the Brock Healthy Youth Project. A longtime volunteer in the Neuropsychology Cognitive Research Lab, she received a Faculty of Social Sciences Research Assistantship in 2022 for her work on mild head injuries.

This spring, Campanella threw herself into her role as lead student organizer for Brock’s Selective Mutism Conference, the University’s first in-person conference after pandemic restrictions were suspended.

The pandemic, she says, had an impact on her Brock journey, from the suspension of varsity sports to the daunting prospect of securing her first co-op placement in the spring of 2020 when many employers were locked down. She was ultimately hired by Norgen Biotek Corporation to help meet heightened demand for supplies related to COVID-19 testing for public health systems.

“The pandemic was definitely a hard time, but it was also the time where I was inspired to continue on, to be a leader in my community,” she says. “During those times, I just continued to think about the bigger picture and staying strong.”

Campanella wrapped up her degree working as a Co-op Assistant in Brock University’s Co-op Education office, enacting her deep commitment to enriching opportunities for future students.

She now works as a Health, Safety and Wellness Assistant in Brock’s Human Resources office and is making plans to attend graduate school.

Campanella says she is “truly honoured” to receive the Spirit of Brock medal and was excited to be able to cross the stage at Convocation Friday with her family in attendance.

“The Faculty of Social Sciences is thrilled to see Cassandra’s leadership, courage, innovation, community involvement and ability to inspire others recognized in this way,” says Dean Ingrid Makus.

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