GALLERY: Education’s Spirit of Brock recipients shine through adversity

Nguyen Hoang Giang (Kevin) Le (PhD ’23) and Loredana Amatuzio (BA ’23, BEd ’23) have pushed on through unimaginable hardships to make their way across the stage at Brock’s 113th Convocation.

The two were awarded Board of Trustees Spirit of Brock medals for their inspiring perseverance and community contributions on Thursday, June 15.

An immigrant from Vietnam and member of the Two-Spirit, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (2SLGBTQ+) community, Le has overcome discrimination and exclusion to earn his PhD in Educational Studies.

Le, whose PhD research incorporated arts-informed methods, was particularly interested in confronting inequitable and discriminatory practices towards gender-diverse and 2SLGBTQ+ communities.

Working closely with his supervisor, Professor of Educational Studies Fiona Blaikie, Le honed his thesis to reflect his identity.

“Dr. Blaikie helped me understand who I am, and how I can speak for others like me. Before my time at Brock University, I had not felt true acceptance as a gay man from Vietnam. The Brock community lifted me up as young, diverse scholar, empowering me when I had come from a marginalized place,” Le said.

Informed by his lived experience, Le focused his studies on gender and sexuality in a broad sociocultural context through different lenses including Confucianism, Buddhism and gender and queer theory.

“Kevin is a smart, focused, courageous, vibrant and imaginative scholar,” said Blaikie.

Now a lecturer at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, B.C., Le is committed to bringing the same support he experienced at Brock into the classroom for his students.

Le has also taken on the role of Postdoctoral Research Fellow at University of British Columbia’s School of Nursing where he is working on projects related to health-care equity for transgender youth.

“This award means a lot not only to me, but to all immigrant emerging scholars who have landed in Canada to pursue their academic goals. There is a lot of self-doubt. I would say to any young student,  ‘you can do this, you will be successful. Don’t give up on your hopes and dreams,’” Le said.

A man in academic regalia stands next to a new graduate on stage at Convocation.

Amatuzio was presented with the undergraduate Spirit of Brock Award by Brock University Board of Trustee Kevin Magee during the morning Convocation ceremony at Ian D. Beddis Gymnasium on Thursday, June 15.

Amatuzio accepted her award in honour of her mother, who passed away in January.

She provided full-time care to her mother, who was diagnosed with stage-five renal failure during Amatuzio’s second year at Brock, while completing a demanding six-year Concurrent Teacher Education program.

“My siblings and I worked so hard to take care of her. Even during her illness, in and out of hospitals, my mother always made sure I understood my education should be my first job. She always encouraged me — she was my biggest fan,” Amatuzio said.

Inspired by her time as a Brock student, Amatuzio is passionate about creating safe and inclusive learning environments as a teacher.

“If I had not had the support and safe space like I had at Brock, I would not have been able to excel,” she said. “My professors really took the time to listen to what I was going through and met me where I was in the learning process. I am committed to bringing this caring and empathy to my students moving forward.”

And she’s only just begun her academic journey.

Amatuzio has been accepted to Brock University’s Master of Education (MEd) program in the fall. She hopes to one day gain experience as a principal with the goal of working at the Ministry of Education.

“I want to be a part of transforming classrooms for a better future,” she said.

In accepting the Spirit of Brock medal, Amatuzio hopes to inspire other students who might be experiencing challenges in their life.

“You can overcome anything, you just need some hope and motivation,” she said.

Mary-Louise Vanderlee, Professor and Interim Dean in the Faculty of Education, said she is honoured to be surrounded by exceptionally inspiring students.

“They remind us that we are always stronger together,” she said. “I have no doubt both Loredana and Kevin will both continue to spark the spirit of inspiration and motivation in all those whom they connect with.”

From June 12 to 16, about 3,500 Brock graduands from seven Faculties will receive their degrees. All ceremonies take place in the Ian D. Beddis Gymnasium of Brock’s Walker Sports Complex and will be livestreamed online at

For more information and a full schedule of Brock’s Spring Convocation, visit

Discover the full collection of Convocation photos by ceremony on Brock University’s official Facebook page.

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