Note: This story is part of a series highlighting the impact of the $2.7-million legacy gift made by the late Stephanie Mitchell, in honour of her late husband Gerald Mitchell, in 2020. The gift has since established the Gerald B. Mitchell Centre of Excellence in Career and Experiential Education at Brock University.
The late Gerald Mitchell (LLD ’82) knew the true potential that experiential education could unleash.
After all, he built his career through hands-on learning.
Though his time in the classroom ended after dropping out of high school, Gerald spent decades educating himself on the job.
He spent 45 years of his career climbing the corporate ladder at Hayes-Dana Ltd., working his way up from machine operator to CEO of the large multinational company. He would go on to be named one of Niagara region’s most successful business leaders, well-known for his personal story of perseverance and leadership that still continues to inspire and motivate the Brock and wider community to date.
Today, Gerald’s legacy lives on through Brock’s Gerald B. Mitchell Centre of Excellence in Career and Experiential Education. In consultation with his wife, Stephanie Mitchell, who passed away in December 2019, the Centre will honour the intellect and force of personality that Gerald demonstrated throughout his career.
The Gerald B. Mitchell Centre of Excellence in Career and Experiential Education is intended to ensure Brock University, and in turn its students, staff and community partners, benefit from leading-edge research practices, programs and strategies related to career and experiential education. To help guide its progress, the Centre appointed Marisa Brown, previously Career Curriculum Manager in Brock’s Co-op, Career and Experiential Education, as its Associate Director in November.
Prior to her passing, Stephanie shared an intimate visit in Asheville, N.C., with members of Brock’s leadership team, including then Vice-Provost, Teaching and Learning Anna Lathrop and Director, Co-op, Career and Experiential Education (CCEE) Cara Krezek. During the visit, she shared stories of inequity that she had both seen and experienced first-hand in her lifetime.
In addition to the goal of honouring her husband by expanding experiential education, co-op and skills training opportunities for students, Stephanie also hoped to create a more equitable future by opening doors and removing barriers for under-represented groups.
To honour her wishes, an important pillar of the newly established Gerald B. Mitchell Centre of Excellence in Career and Experiential Education is equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) work. This work aims to advance existing supports and inform Brock’s CCEE programming by identifying and implementing continuous improvement measures to optimize career education programming and resources to support co-op, career and experiential learning.
With that goal in mind, the Centre hired Clelia Kimana (BA ’16) last summer as the EDI Career Curriculum Consultant.
Among her large portfolio, Clelia develops career resources for staff and diverse student groups, offers one-on-one career coaching support for racialized and under-represented students, and creates supports for employers and community partners who are actively recruiting students and graduates from equity-deserving groups.
Brock’s CCEE unit must be intentional in the design and integration of its EDI practices in order to best serve its students and community partners, Clelia said.
“We hear about EDI all the time, but understanding diversity and inclusion isn’t only about awareness, it must be part of our everyday practice; it is the most human thing to do,” she said. “Mostly, it is knowing we are weakened when we leave some voices out.”
Equity promoting activities within the Gerald B. Mitchell Centre of Excellence in Career and Experiential Education include, but are not limited to: creating tools and resources for students, staff and beyond on intercultural communication awareness and unconscious bias; developing fulsome training and ongoing education for CCEE staff; developing, revising and maintaining new and existing online curriculum resources; and continuing relationship development with current and prospective partners and employers.
“Brock is humbled to be home to this recognized Centre of Excellence and takes pride in the direct impact it will have on our students and their career-readiness, during and beyond their time at our institution,” said Sonia Dupte, Executive Director, Development and Alumni Relations. “However, none of this would be possible without the generous and transformational philanthropy from the Mitchell family. This remarkable contribution will allow for Dr. Mitchell’s legacy to live on, while building a better future for our communities.”
Those interested in learning more about the EDI offerings through the Gerald B. Mitchell Centre of Excellence in Career and Experiential Education are asked to reach out to Marisa Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org