Articles tagged with: Faculty of Social Sciences

  • Research award winners to share findings at upcoming event

    Research on sustainability, decolonization and child safety will be featured the upcoming annual public Faculty of Social Sciences (FOSS) Research Colloquium.

    This year’s virtual event takes place Wednesday, Dec. 8 from 1 to 3:30 p.m. and will include presentations from both recipients of the 2021 FOSS Early Career Researcher of the Year Award, as well as three winners of the FOSS Student Research Award.

    • “Water resilience for a rapidly changing world” — Associate Professor Julia Baird, Geography and Tourism Studies and Environmental Sustainability Research Centre
    • “Empathy and Equity for the World’s Oceans” — Assistant Professor Jessica Blythe, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre
    • “A Holistic Approach to Mapping Priority Sites for Low-Impact Development” — Jillian Booth (BSc ’20), Sustainability Science and Society
    • “Tracing the Colonial Dimensions of ‘Special Education’: History, Disability and Settler Colonialism” — Alec Moore (BA ’20), Child and Youth Studies
    • “Evaluating Video Prompting to Teach Prospective Parents and Caregivers Correct Installation of Child Passenger Safety Restraints” — Niruba Rasuratnam, Applied Disability Studies

    Baird, Canada Research Chair in Human Dimensions of Water and Water Resilience, says being recognized with the Early Career Researcher Award jointly with her colleague Jessica Blythe was a thrill.

    “It is an honour, and I think it helps raise the profile of the research being done by my lab and the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) more broadly, especially with both Jessica and I receiving this award in the same year,” says Baird. “I am so appreciative to the Faculty of Social Sciences for this award.”

    Blythe agrees, saying she felt both incredibly honoured by the recognition and pleased to be named alongside Baird.

    “It is especially exciting to know that the kind of applied, interdisciplinary and solution-oriented research we do as sustainability scientists is being recognized by the Faculty,” says Blythe. “While this award recognizes individuals, the work we do isn’t possible without an incredible team of people, including faculty and staff at ESRC, collaborators, students, and partners to name a few.”

    Baird is also grateful to have worked with several partners as part of her work, which she purposely designs to have real-world impact.

    “I am fortunate to have worked with excellent, sustainability-oriented partners and collaborators in my research as a faculty member, including the Niagara Parks Commission, WWF-Canada, and the Town of Lincoln, along with many amazing academics and students,” says Baird. “Nothing I do happens in isolation and I’m so grateful to those who have mentored me and collaborated with me to reach this point.”

    Both Blythe and Baird say they look forward to sharing their work and engaging in conversation at the upcoming event. Baird is also looking forward to celebrating graduate student research at the Colloquium, including that of Master of Sustainability student Booth, whom Baird supervises.

    “My research is focused on using Nature-Based Solutions such as Low-Impact Development (LID) to build more resilient socio-ecological communities,” says Booth. “Findings will be applied to the Prudhommes Landing development located in the Town of Lincoln, but the lessons learned from this case study can be shared with other leading jurisdictions and governments looking for innovative ways to encourage sustainable development.”

    Booth used her FOSS Student Award funding to commute to the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, where she was able to use the laboratory and equipment to collect and analyze soil samples collected at Prudhommes Landing throughout the summer.

    Moore, an MA student in Child and Youth Studies, will present on his research into the connection between conceptualizations of disability and the forces of settler colonialism in Canada, outlining his project to analyze the Ontario First Nations Special Education Review Report.

    “Being able to contribute to a critical and emerging body of literature that discusses disability and settler colonialism is extremely rewarding, as there is a significant need for more critical work in this area,” says Moore. “It is also very rewarding to play a very small part in continuing the ongoing effort of Decolonization, particularly in regards to Disability Studies.”

    Moore used the funding from his FOSS Student Research Award to scale back on work hours and purchase research materials. He says he is excited to take part in the event next week, and credits his supervisor, Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director Hannah Dyer, as well as committee members Assistant Professor Chelsea Jones and Professor Richard Mitchell, with helping him get to the point of being ready to share his research plan.

    Rasuratnam of the MA in Applied Disability Studies also emphasizes the role her supervisor, Associate Professor Kimberly Zonneveld, has played not only in this research but in her academic path overall. After graduating with a degree in Life Science from McMaster, Rasuratnam completed a post-graduate certificate in Autism and Behavioural Sciences at Seneca College, which then led her to the graduate programs in Brock’s Department of Applied Disability Studies. She started out in a coursework stream but was inspired to undertake research by Zonneveld.

    At the upcoming event, Rasuratnam will present some of this work for the first time to an audience outside of the Zonneveld lab.

    “My research entails creating a video-prompting model to help prospective and current caregivers correctly install a car seat and harness an infant,” she says. “There’s still such a high prevalence of death and injuries that occur from motor vehicle collisions that, if caregivers learn how to correctly install car seats, this risk could be reduced by 70 to 80 per cent.”

    Rasuratnam used the funding from her FOSS Student Award to complete the Child Passenger Safety Technician certification to develop her video prompting procedure. She says there are currently only six applied studies on the topic of training, so the research could have far-reaching impacts if the techniques of applied behaviour analysis are shown to improve outcomes in the area of car-seat installation.

    Dawn Zinga, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research in the Faculty of Social Sciences, says the event is an opportunity to showcase top faculty researchers while also highlighting the exciting research of graduate students.

    “The Faculty has wonderful diversity in the research that is undertaken across the various departments and programs,” says Zinga. “This event illustrates that breadth and depth.”

    The FOSS Research Colloquium is open to the public and intended for a general audience. Please register to receive a link to the Lifesize livestream.

    STORY FROM THE BROCK NEWS

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  • New paper by Dragos Simandan “Social capital, population health, and the gendered statistics of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality”

    A new paper titled, “Social capital, population health, and the gendered statistics of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality” by Professor Dr. Dragos Simandan was recently published in SSM – Population Health.

    Abstract:
    Scholars in the field of population health need to be on the constant lookout for the danger that their tacit ideological commitments translate into systematic biases in how they interpret their empirical results. This contribution illustrates this problematic by critically interrogating a set of concepts such as tradition, trust, social capital, community, or gender, that are routinely used in population health research even though they carry a barely acknowledged political and ideological load. Alongside this wider deconstruction of loaded concepts, I engage critically but constructively with Martin Lindström et al.’s paper “Social capital, the miniaturization of community, traditionalism and mortality: A population-based prospective cohort study in southern Sweden” to evaluate the extent to which it fits with other empirical findings in the extant literature. Taking as a point of departure the intriguing finding that social capital predicts cardiovascular and all-cause mortality only for men, but not for women, I argue that future research on the nexus of social capital, health, and mortality needs to frame gender not only as a demographic and statistical variable, but also as an ontological conundrum and as an epistemological sensibility.

      Reference:
      Simandan. D. (2021). Social capital, population health, and the gendered statistics of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality. SSM – Population Health, 16: online.

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    • Symposium to highlight social justice research partnerships

      FROM THE BROCK NEWS | by 

      Researchers from Brock’s Social Justice Research Institute (SJRI), who have teamed up with community partners on funded projects, will have their work showcased at an upcoming free, public event.

      The virtual symposium, Social Justice and Community Collaboration, takes place online Tuesday, Sept. 28 from noon to 2 p.m. as part of the ongoing Faculty of Social Sciences Symposium Series. Everyone is welcome to take part, but advance registration is required.

      “Our affiliates have been doing innovative and compelling social justice-oriented projects in collaboration with community groups, both locally and internationally,” says Rebecca Raby, Director of SJRI and a Professor in the Department of Child and Youth Studies. “At this symposium, we want to share these projects, and to inspire other faculty and community members to think about the exciting range of collaborative projects that can be pursued.”

      The symposium will feature the following presentations:

      • “Reflections on the Key Principles of a Successful ‘Community-University’ Research Partnership,” presented by Andrea Doucet of the Department of Sociology, Canada Research Chair in Gender, Work and Care, with Evan Jewell of X University and Master of Arts Sociology Research Assistant Jessica Falk.
      • “Body/Land/Sovereignty through Photography: Reflecting on a workshop with young Haudenosaunee women,” presented by Sherri Vansickle of the Tecumseh Centre for Aboriginal Research and Education, with Margot Francis of the Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies and Department of Sociology.
      • “Road Construction, Mobility and Social Change in a Wakhi Village: Shimshali Perspectives in Words and Pictures,” presented by David Butz of the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies, with Nancy Cook of the Department of Sociology.
      • “Collaborating with community to explore social exclusion and inclusion experiences of immigrant women in Niagara,” presented by Joanne Crawford of the Department of Nursing.
      • “Children Reading and Writing Photographs — Critical Literacies and Collaborations,” presented by Diane Collier of the Department of Educational Studies, with Melissa McKinney-Leep of the District School Board of Niagara and graduate students Simranjeet Kaur and Zachary Rondinelli.

      Raby says that as public health restrictions have eased, greater opportunities for collaboration have begun to open up, so she is eager to introduce new Brock faculty members and SJRI affiliates to the research that is already taking place.

      “Community partnerships provide an opportunity to meet community needs, to inform decision-making, to connect with local participants, to try something new and to build relationships,” says Raby. “They encourage us to tackle social issues in a collaborative way that can transcend a specific disciplinary focus and to work with faculty from outside of our own disciplines in order to have comprehensive engagements with community needs. They can invite us to see our scholarly work a little differently.”

      SJRI funding grants have been part of the Institute from its creation and are designed to “include social justice and transdisciplinary components, creating a shared focus on positive community-oriented social change,” according to Raby. The grants provide opportunities for both junior and established researchers to develop community-based research programs, facilitate relationship-building and lay the groundwork for larger funding applications.

      There are currently 80 researchers affiliated with SJRI, and new researchers are always welcome to get involved

      “SJRI offers opportunities for faculty members who are concerned about social justice and interested in transdisciplinary scholarship to connect with each other across the university,” says Raby. “We also post regular information about projects that community organizations are interested in pursuing in collaboration with Brock.”

      Anyone interested in learning more about SJRI or the process for becoming an SJRI affiliate should contact Project Facilitator Julie Gregory via email, and attend next week’s symposium to explore possibilities.

      To register for the event or for more information, visit the symposium web page.

      STORY FROM THE BROCK NEWS

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    • Social Sciences faculty members recognized for outstanding contributions

      FROM THE BROCK NEWS | by 

      Associate Professor Hannah Dyer in the Department of Child and Youth Studies (CHYS) is the recipient of this year’s Faculty of Social Sciences Award for Excellence in Teaching.

      Dyer, who also serves as the Graduate Program Director for CHYS, says that she felt “honoured and overwhelmed” not only to receive the award, but also to be nominated by her colleagues. She was recognized as part of Brock’s Virtual Spring Convocation on Friday, June 18.

      “I was also immensely grateful when I read the supporting letters that students wrote,” she says. “It reminded of the important ways they contribute to intellectual communities at Brock and truly, make it a wonderful place to teach.”

      Dyer is a critical theorist of childhood with a concentration in art/aesthetics, social conflict, queer theory and psychoanalysis. In 2020, she published The Queer Aesthetics of Childhood: Asymmetries of Innocence and the Cultural Politics of Child Development.

      She first came to Brock in 2017, having previously worked as an Assistant Professor at Carleton University. She says that she polished her classroom skills while teaching at the University of Toronto and Sheridan College as a PhD student.

      “The pairing of these two teaching positions — being an instructor at a college and at a research-intensive university — offered me the opportunity to create curricular offerings that welcome many students into conversations that may otherwise be alienating,” says Dyer.

      She was attracted to Brock because of the CHYS Department’s large size and transdisciplinary approach, as well as the then-newly created PhD program.

      To enhance transdisciplinary thinking for her students, Dyer works hard to include media and cultural production in her courses, using critical analysis of everything from political campaigns to art exhibits to explore social commentary and symbolism.

      “In showing students how to treat film, digital media, music and novels with as much value as other scholarly texts and textbooks, I aim to assist them in making meaning and theory from their everyday experiences and relationships,” says Dyer. “The residue of these lessons is felt months after the course has ended, as is evidenced by emails from students who have read a book or watched a show that has then reminded them of our course and its theoretical foundations.”

      Dyer believes that teaching is an “ethical and urgent task that can usher in new and more just worlds,” and says the experience of transitioning courses to online delivery at the onset of the global pandemic showed just how fluid both teachers and learners need to be.

      “It reminded me that I am a continuous learner myself in a world that is being reshaped by crisis, and in the altered terrains of education that come in its wake,” says Dyer. “My syllabi are often framed by questions I’d like the class to consider while we move through the semester, and they are meant to provoke thought rather than resolution — to remind both teacher and student of the social and political urgencies that drive our critique.”

      As such, Dyer treats her classroom as a “site of reciprocal care” and is diligent about meeting the needs of her students.

      “I am concerned with the care needed to foster a supportive environment for students who are otherwise marginalized, so my assignments and modes of assessment take seriously the needs of students whose communities and subjectivities have historically been mistreated by institutions of higher education,” says Dyer. “My courses are imagined as both events and processes, whereby learning happens for both student and teacher. The teacher is tasked with an ethical duty to demonstrate why learning new things matters for both the student and the teacher.”

      Earlier this year, the Faculty of Social Sciences also awarded its top honours for research, the Distinguished Researcher and Early Career Researcher of the Year.

      Professor Andrea Doucet of the Department of Sociology and the Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies was named the Faculty of Social Sciences Distinguished Researcher for 2020. Doucet holds a Tier I Canada Research Chair in Gender, Work and Care and recently began work on a SSHRC Partnership Grant entitled Reimagining Care/Work Policies (2020-2027).

      The Faculty chose to name two Early Career Researchers of the Year for 2020: Assistant Professor Jessica Blythe of the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC), the faculty lead on the Niagara Adapts Innovative Partnership, and Assistant Professor Julia Baird of the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies and the ESRC, who holds a Tier II Canada Research Chair in Human Dimensions of Water Resources and Water Resilience.

      Ingrid Makus, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, says the Faculty’s award winners have all continued to do extraordinary work in spite of the circumstances of this extraordinary year.

      “At a time when we are collectively being moved to reimagine the society around us, these exceptional faculty members have redoubled their efforts to expand and share knowledge around urgent issues,” says Makus. “Hannah Dyer’s creative and conscientious approach to teaching and the significant research contributions of Andrea Doucet, Julia Baird and Jessica Blythe have a clear, positive impact on the world around us. Their ongoing work is a source of great pride for the Faculty, and it is our pleasure to recognize them for their achievements.”

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    • Public symposium to share Brock research on mental health

      Faculty, student and staff presenters from across Brock University will explore various aspects of mental health during a virtual public symposium on Tuesday, April 27.

      Mental health, including during the pandemic, will be discussed by Brock researchers from across the University at a public event next week.

      Perspectives on Mental Health, a free online symposium, takes place Tuesday, April 27 from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.

      The interdisciplinary event will feature faculty, student and staff presenters from the Departments of Child and Youth Studies, Geography and Tourism Studies, Education, Health Sciences and Nursing, as well as the Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre.

      Researchers will offer their perspectives on a wide array of topics related to mental health, including:

      • experiences of nature for Canadian youth
      • perceptions of weight and bullying among adolescents
      • social and emotional learning in elementary schools
      • an urban mental health crisis at the turn of the 20th century

      Several of the presenters will focus on the various effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on youth, including:

      • the benefits of dog-walking to relieve pandemic stress in young people
      • perfectionism both before and during the pandemic
      • transitioning from high school to university during the pandemic
      • impacts of youth mental health on families

      Details on the presenters and a full list of presentations with descriptions are available online.

      Perspectives on Mental Health kicks off a new interdisciplinary symposium series hosted by the Faculty of Social Sciences. It is intended to create more opportunities for members of the Brock and wider communities to learn about research and activities happening across the University related to various themes.

      Ingrid Makus, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, is eager to welcome visitors to these events, which are intended for a non-expert audience.

      “With this new series, we hope to explore topics from multiple perspectives,” says Makus. “This inaugural event, Perspectives on Mental Health, offers audience members and participants alike a unique opportunity to consider the theme of mental health through a variety of lenses.”

      Everyone is welcome to attend the live event. Registration is required. A link to join via Lifesize will be sent following registration.

      FROM THE BROCK NEWS

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    • MA in Geography alumna receives 2020 Best Graduate Thesis Award

      The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies is pleased to congratulate Geography MA alumna, Katelyn Pierce (’20), who was recently awarded the 2020 Faculty of Social Sciences Best Graduate MA Thesis Award for her thesis titled “Detached from Our Bodies: Representing Women‘s Mental Health and Well-being with Graphic Memoirs.” Congratulations also to Katelyn’s MA supervisor, Dr. Ebru Ustandag.

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    • David Brown presents his new collaborative research project with Niagara Falls Museum and Library

      Faculty on video conference Call

      Dr. Dave Brown (top left) joined researchers across Brock University’s Faculty of Social Sciences for a virtual symposium.

      Dr. Dave Brown joined researchers across Brock University’s Faculty of Social Sciences on February 4th, 2021 for a virtual symposium where he shared about his research project, “Collaborative research proposal with Niagara Falls Museum and Library: Geolocation and Interpretation of Digital Historical and Heritage Assets in Niagara”. This project was one of many funded by the Special COVID-19-Related Dean’s Discretionary Fund.

      In spring, 2020, as the disruptive potential of the pandemic became clear, the Dean’s Office sought to support ongoing and innovative initiatives by members of the Faculty of Social Sciences. As activities across FOSS were reimagined and realigned to comply with the new COVID-19 context, the Special COVID-19-Related Dean’s Discretionary Fund was created. The online symposium showcased and discussed several of the projects that were supported through this fund, including Dr. Brown’s research.

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    • Social Sciences event to showcase faculty, student research 

      From lake bottom sediment to digital data, from hockey to health care, and from local actions to global implications, there’s no shortage of impactful research being done in Brock University’s Faculty of Social Sciences (FOSS).

      The University community is invited to hear about some of the compelling projects underway by faculty and students during the upcoming Social Sciences Research Colloquium taking place online Wednesday, Dec. 9 from 1 to 4 p.m.

      This annual event recognizes the outstanding achievements of FOSS researchers and gives award recipients an opportunity to present their findings to the Brock community and wider public.

      This year’s virtual colloquium will feature recent recipients of FOSS faculty awards that recognize consistent records of outstanding research achievements as reflected in the quality and quantity of refereed publications, grants awards and other research activities.

      Featured recipients include Michael Pisaric, Professor of Geography and Tourism Studies, who received the 2019 Distinguished Researcher award; Assistant Professor Karen Louise Smith from the Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film, who received the 2019 Untenured Researcher of the Year award; and Nicole Goodman, now Associate Professor of Political Science, who received the Untenured Researcher of the Year award in 2018, but was unavailable to present until this year.

      In addition to faculty members, three winners of the Social Sciences Student Research Award were selected to present, including Pulkit Garg, who is pursuing a Master of Sustainability supervised by Professor of Biology Liette Vasseur; Jessica Falk, a Master of Arts candidate in Social Justice and Equity Studies, who is supervised by Margot Francis, Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies; and Master of Arts candidate in Critical Sociology Appiah Bonsu, who is supervised by Associate Professor of Sociology Trent Newmeyer.

      This is the second Research Colloquium to showcase FOSS student researchers alongside faculty award winners. Combined, faculty and student presentations represent six FOSS departments.

      Winners of the 2020 FOSS faculty awards will be announced at the Research Colloquium, providing a preview of next year’s event.

      All are welcome to attend the free online event. For more information, including the draft agenda and login instructions, please visit the Research Colloquium website.

      What: Social Sciences Research Colloquium
      When: Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020 from 1 to 4 p.m.
      Where: Lifesize
      Who: This webinar is free and open to the public.

      STORY FROM THE BROCK NEWS

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    • Star of The Alan Nursall Experience shares Brock experience

      FROM THE BROCK NEWSWEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2019 | by

      When Alan Nursall returned to Brock University 40 years after graduating to receive the 2019 Distinguished Graduate Award for the Faculty of Social Sciences, campus wasn’t quite the same as it was when he’d left.

      “Brock in 2019 is a completely different place, and I mean that in a good way,” says Nursall (BA ’79). “The campus has grown so much and seems so much more imposing than it did in the 70s. But that’s a good thing — its growth is a sign of its success.”

      Even with all of the changes, Nursall’s feeling when he comes to Brock is always the same. “Every time I return, up to and including this year, I get a warm feeling recalling the friends and fun from those four years.”

      Since Nursall completed his Geography studies at Brock, he has become a widely known science educator, with a face easily recognizable from his popular segment, The Alan Nursall Experience, on the Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet.

      He joined the staff of Science North when it opened in 1984 and worked as the science director for its companion facility, Dynamic Earth, from 1999 to 2007.

      He then went on to open NEXT Exhibits + Creative Communication, a firm specializing in creating exhibits and experiences for museums and science centres, working with the likes of the Smithsonian Institution and the Canadian Space Agency to make science accessible, engaging and fun.

      In 2014, Nursall was appointed President and CEO of TELUS World of Science – Edmonton, a science centre operated by the Edmonton Space & Science Foundation, where he continues his work blending learning with entertainment.

      “I ended up spending 35 years working science centres, an incredibly satisfying career that I never dreamed of in school,” says Nursall. “But my post-secondary education sure made it possible.”

      Though he is back in Edmonton now, Nursall was a long way from his Alberta home when he came to Brock in 1975. With a few good friends and a program that excited and challenged him, he found his footing by the end of his first year.

      “I still remember the first time someone called me Cowboy because I was from Alberta,” says Nursall. “I was born and raised in suburban Edmonton, but the nickname stuck, and for most of my four years at Brock, I was called Cowboy by pretty much everybody.”

      Nursall says the nickname still makes him smile, and still comes to mind from time to time, as it did a few years ago when he had the opportunity to take a zero-G flight, flying 15 parabolas and thus having 15 weightless episodes.

      “As part of the flight, you were asked to adopt a nickname,” Nursall says. “I requested the nickname Cowboy, and that name tag from the zero-G flight now sits prominently in my den, a reminder of the flight, but also of my time at Brock.”

      Nursall credits his fourth year in the Geography program as having the strongest impact on his trajectory as a science educator. He notes three key factors: his great professors, some challenging research projects and the fact that his was the first class to be assigned a weekly internship.

      “My internship was at the Atmospheric Environment Service headquarters in Toronto, where I took on a project under the guidance of climatologist Dave Phillips, the originator of the weather trivia calendar and now famous across the country as the Senior Climatologist for Environment Canada,” says Nursall. “Working with Dave, I undertook a research project that turned into a summer job and then turned into a graduate degree.”

      “The internship program really shaped my life, creating connections and opportunity that I never would have imagined possible. I have deep respect and affection for the professors in the Geography department who were always looking for ways to expand our horizons beyond the textbooks and classrooms.”

      Alun Hughes (left) and Alan Nursall face off on the soccer pitch in 1978 on the right.

      When Nursall attended Fall Homecoming to receive his award, he received another gift as well — a copy of History Made in Niagara, the book of Professor Alun Hughes’ writings published posthumously last spring. Nursall says the gift was a highlight of his visit.

      “Alun was a good friend and mentor,” says Nursall, who still has a photo of the two men playing in a student-faculty soccer game around the fall of 1978.

      Nursall emphasizes that he didn’t know what career he would pursue while he was at Brock, but instead he sought out opportunities that challenged and interested him. He would encourage students to embrace their experiences here.

      “Your education doesn’t prescribe your career — it prepares you for it, and for life in general,” Nursall says. “Your education doesn’t fill your brain with information, it helps you become a better thinker. And that is what drives success. That is what expands your world.”

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