Faculty of Social Sciences graduates Annilea Purser (BA ’23) and Haley Myatt (MA ’23) received Board of Trustees Spirit of Brock medals during the University’s 113th Convocation on Monday, June 12 for their leadership and inspiring community contributions.
Purser, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a minor in Indigenous Studies, says the Brock community has shaped her as a leader and a citizen.
“I entered university feeling unsure about myself and what the future would hold for me, but very early on in my first year I learned just how much the Brock community cares about students and of the many opportunities that are available for students to make a difference,” she says. “At Brock, I’ve been able to realize that when you feel safe, welcomed and accepted within an academic institution, you feel comfortable starting conversations with people about your aspirations and how you can achieve them.”
For Purser, those aspirations included working with colleagues from Brock to reimagine her non-profit organization in 2020. She founded The BookWorm Initiative, which is meant to benefit vulnerable youth, as a high school student in 2017.
The Bookworm Initiative provided more than 7,000 books to unhoused youths between 2017 and 2022 and purchased schoolbooks for remote communities in Uganda whose learning was disrupted by the pandemic.
Purser says her time at Brock and in the local community — with the Brock Leaders Citizenship Society, international student mentoring, Brock’s Collegiate Leadership Competition Team, The Brock Press, Upcycle for Change and the Town of Grimsby — helped her build the support network she needed to reimagine her non-profit.
She also deepened her commitment to equity within education as a student, researcher and research assistant at Brock. Purser’s honours thesis, which examines First Nations self-determined education policy, was influenced by the educational experiences of Indigenous colleagues she met while serving as an inclusion facilitator at the Students Commission of Canada’s national youth conference.
Read about Haley Myatt here.
Dean Ingrid Makus says she is inspired by the community-minded spirit shown by both Myatt and Purser.
“Haley and Annilea used their time at Brock to challenge themselves, to build on their foundations and to expand their sphere of influence in a positive and meaningful way,” says Makus. “Their impact on the Brock community is the result of years of dedication, open-mindedness and courage, and we are delighted to see their remarkable achievements recognized with the Spirit of Brock medal.”