Spirit of Brock winner finds purpose in volunteering

For Larry Nie, receiving the Spirit of Brock medal at Brock University’s Fall Convocation on Friday, Oct. 18 capped off two life-changing years as a student in the Faculty of Education.

Nie, who graduated on Oct. 18 from the Master of Education, International Student Program, first came to Brock from China in August 2017 to enroll in the Masters Preparation Certificate in Education (MPCE) program.

As an international student, he wanted to make the most of his Brock experience and volunteered to engage with the University community, saying that he “always wanted to experience more.”

Through the Brock Learning Lab, Nie volunteered as a literacy tutor in a local school and spent time supporting ESL and newcomer students at local elementary schools. For the past year and a half, he has worked as a volunteer with Supporting Neurodiversity through Adaptive Programming (SNAP), a Brock initiative offering one-on-one facilitated instruction in physical activity for children and youth with disabilities in the Niagara region.

In 2018, Nie volunteered on campus during O-Week and received the Sunshine Award from the Brock University Students’ Union for his service and was able to build relationships with students in other programs.

With no prior volunteer experience before coming to Brock, Nie said it has become his life purpose.

“It makes me feel alive,” said Nie. “I feel like I’ve found my meaning when volunteering.”

He credits the support he received from Brock faculty and staff, particularly Mira Bajovic and Clinton Kewley, as critical to navigating his journey as an international student and the challenges he faced in his research. Bajovic, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Studies, was Nie’s Major Research Paper (MRP) supervisor, and Kewley is the International Student Services Coordinator in the Faculty of Education.

“It is humbling to consider the breadth of what Larry accomplished in such a short time,” said Kewley. “In the Faculty of Education, we talk extensively about the significance of students serving as ambassadors in the local community and abroad. Larry is a prototype for ambassadors of the Master of Education program.”

In his native China, Nie taught English, which sparked his passion for teaching, which he hopes to pursue as a career. Graduating was especially meaningful to him and his family, as his parents didn’t have the opportunity to pursue post-secondary education.

He said he hopes achieving the Spirit of Brock medal will inspire other international students to make the most of their Brock experience.

“If I could serve as a model for future international students, that’s awesome,” said Nie.

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