Articles tagged with: convocation

  • First students to complete entire four-year degree at downtown MIWSFPA graduate June 14

    Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts in downtown St. Catharines.


    The first group of students to have completed their entire four-year degree at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts’ downtown St. Catharines facility crossed the stage at Spring Convocation on Friday, June 14.

    Sixty-three students from Brock’s Departments of Music, Visual Arts and Dramatic Arts graduated from the downtown arts school, which opened its doors in 2015. Nine students who minored in programs at the MIWSFPA will also graduate on Friday.

    The milestone is not lost on the 2019 graduating class.

    “It’s a cool honour to be part of Brock history and I’m grateful to have trained in such a professional environment,” said Emma McCormick, who completed a Bachelor of Arts in Dramatic Arts, Performance Concentration. “I feel that I’ve gained a lot of skills that will serve me in my career, specific to the learning I received at the MIWSFPA.”

    The London, Ont. native is the recipient of the Jean Harding Prize, which is awarded to the student who achieves the highest standing in fourth-year Dramatic Arts. She plans to remain in St. Catharines after graduation, where she will continue her studies in Brock’s Adult Education program and working in the performing arts sector.

    Providing students like McCormick with a purpose-built, state-of-the-art facility was the vision of the School’s namesake, the late Marilyn I. Walker.

    When the famed textile artist and philanthropist donated $15 million to Brock University in 2008, she envisioned the creation of an arts facility that would revitalize downtown St. Catharines and encourage students to study and practice the arts here in the Niagara region.

    Her generosity and foresight allowed for the historic Canada Hair Cloth Building to be converted into the new home for the Departments of Music, Dramatic Arts and Visual Arts, and the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture, which had previously been housed at Brock’s main campus.

    The $45.5-million project also received a $26.2-million investment from the Ontario government, numerous private and corporate donors, and relied heavily on the insight and contributions of hundreds of partners such as then-Dean of Humanities, Rosemary Hale, and the City of St. Catharines.

    MIWSFPA Director Elizabeth Vlossak, who joined the School on an interim basis from the Department of History, said she has seen first-hand the impact the facility and its programming has on students.

    “Although the School is a cultural hub that acts as a living, breathing connection between the city’s past and future, it’s also so much more than that,” she said. “In my short time here, I have seen how these incredible facilities and engaged, passionate faculty benefit our students.”

    Graduand Alyssa Shanghavi, of St. Catharines, said she appreciated the availability of unique practice spaces on campus for music students like herself, which allowed her to focus on her studies and hone her skills on the trombone.

    The Bachelor of Music recipient said being around other artists all the time and in such close proximity to the downtown core was an invaluable complement to her education.

    Gianna Luisa Aceto, a graduand from Mississauga, said that as a painter, she “enjoyed and most definitely appreciated the space the MIWSFPA provided.”

    As well as making new friendships and plenty of memories, Aceto attributes the successful completion of her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Studio Art to the artistic identify she forged while studying at the School.

    “One of the biggest takeaways for me is finding my passion, my niche,” she said.
    “I struggled a lot in finding out what I wanted to create and the reasons for creating it. My time spent within the walls of the MIWSFPA allowed me to uncover that knowledge.”

    She also said she has an undeniable gratitude for her professors, and that “the drive they instilled in me has not gone unnoticed.”

    Faculty of Humanities Dean Carol Merriam said this milestone serves as time to reflect on the importance of the arts and its ability to create healthy and flourishing communities.

    “This first class of students to have spent their entire Brock careers in this splendid facility serve this mission in downtown St. Catharines and in the broader community, but they have also been a defining force within the MIWSFPA itself,” she said. “They have been largely responsible for creating the culture of the School as a place to learn, create and serve as a community. Their impact will last a very long time, and we are proud to see their graduation day.”

    Longstanding former MIWSFPA Director Derek Knight echoed Merriam’s sentiments.

    The Associate Professor said the class of 2019 should receive their degrees with pride having been part of an extraordinary university experience and contributing to the legacy of the arts, both at Brock and in the community.

    With the MIWSFPA’s fifth anniversary on the horizon, the School will continue to offer students unique teaching and learning experiences while honouring the spirit of its benefactor, he said.

    “What was interesting about Marilyn is that she was always very curious and engaged with how we, the faculty, envisioned the future,” Knight said. “She thought it was our job to rise to the challenge and define the potential of what she had given to us in the form of this extraordinary gift. I think, in many ways, we’ve done that.

    “Now, we are charged to think about not only what we will offer today, but in the long-term, and how we will define pedagogy and the School’s identity long into the future.”

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    Categories: Alumni, News

  • Award winner stresses mountains worth climbing to capture dreams

    (Source: The Brock News, Friday, June 09, 2017 | by Maryanne Firth. Photo caption: “Jessica Vickruck, Aniqah Zowmi, Annika Mazzarella and Grant Yocom were each honoured with a Board of Trustees Spirit of Brock award during Friday’s faculties of Humanities and Math and Science Convocation ceremony.”)

    Annika Mazzarella’s university years were filled with many ups and downs, all which contributed to an important life lesson.

    When the 22-year-old St. Catharines native focused her studies on History of Art and Visual Culture, as well as Medieval and Renaissance Studies, she encountered people along the way who were discouraging, some even disapproving, of her chosen career path.

    It was her time at Brock that taught Mazzarella the importance of striving to achieve her dreams, regardless of any obstacles in her way.

    The naysayers she encountered were offset by the optimistic community at Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts and at Rodman Hall Art Centre, where Mazzarella always felt included and supported to pursue her career ambitions.

    The experience caused her to develop a new sense of self-confidence, refusing to back down from the goals she has set for herself.

    That determination, among other impressive qualities, earned Mazzarella the Board of Trustees undergraduate student Spirit of Brock award for the Faculty of Humanities, presented during Friday’s Convocation ceremony — a joint celebration for the faculties of Humanities and Math and Science.

    The morning event also saw Grant Yocom recognized as the Humanities graduate student Spirit of Brock recipient, and Aniqah Zowmi and Jessica Vickruck honoured as the undergraduate and graduate student recipients respectively for Math and Science.

    Mazzarella said her Brock experience, both inside of and beyond the classroom, provided her with a “solid foundation” to support her future career path as an art curator.

    In addition to studying abroad in Italy last spring through International Plus, Mazzarella joined several Brock organizations, including Brock Dance, Brock Niagara Lifesaving Club, Brock Niagara Masters, Brock Student Leadership Network, and Brock’s Medieval and Renaissance Society.

    She also represented the University as a student delegate at the 2016 Canadian Conference on Student Leadership.

    “With each involvement I had different experiences, however, they proved to me that you can do anything you put your mind to and that there is always something new to learn,” she said.

    Mazzarella plans to move to Ottawa this fall to pursue her master’s degree in Art History with a concentration in Art Exhibition and Curatorial Practices.

    Her advice for incoming students, in the words of Henry David Thoreau, is to “go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagined.”

    For Zowmi, earning the Spirit of Brock designation meant accomplishing her final university goal.

    “I have been fortunate to have had so many great opportunities,” said the passionate advocate of youth civic engagement, who is known as a leader in the Brock community.

    “One of the best things about Brock is that it is a small community and you feel very much supported,” Zowmi said. “It is also a place that encourages you to develop yourself both professionally and personally.”

    Zowmi is the first Brock student to win a 3M National Student Fellowship Award for her efforts to empower youth and encourage equality in education.

    She served on the University’s Human Rights Task Force, was a member of the Canadian Youth Delegation to the Commonwealth Youth Forum in Malta, where she addressed more than 700 youths at the UN Headquarters, and was a Youth Advisor to the Canadian Commission to UNESCO.

    Zowmi, a National Youth Ambassador for Passages Canada, also co-founded BrockU Talks, a speaker’s series for students to promote their engagement on global issues such as peace and sustainability.

    Both Spirit of Brock graduate recipients were also recognized for their hard efforts on and off campus.

    Yocom has been a leader among graduate students of the new PhD in Interdisciplinary Humanities in its formative years.

    He twice served as the graduate student representative on the council in order to provide a student voice as the program structured its regulations and established the format for its comprehensive examinations.

    Described as an inspirational leader, Yocom brought students together and has helped to make the PhD in Interdisciplinary Humanities the exciting and innovative program that it has become.

    Vickruck has demonstrated exemplary leadership in her research group and among graduate students in Biological Sciences.

    Her Master’s of Science produced three published manuscripts on pygmy carpenter bees, and her PhD will produce four major papers on the subject.

    She has also worked with a research scientist at the Canadian National Insect Collection in Ottawa, a collaboration that led to offers from scientists at several other Canadian and American universities.

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    Categories: Alumni, Current Students, In the Media, News