A Lost Wabbit – RIP Kale

Monday night, I got home from work, I was sitting on the couch, watching TV, with my computer on my lap. I was letting go of all of the stresses of my day while scanning through my Facebook news feed, like I do daily. That’s when something caught my eye, and not in a good way.

In 2004-2005, I was a Don at Brock University. I was responsible for overseeing a court of 75 students. I was the Don of the Wetherald Wabbits and I honestly believe I had the best court that year. While I had some wascaly wabbits, I had a lot of amazing people in my court. My students often made me feel like a proud momma, though being the same age or younger than a number of my students.

So on Monday October 17th, when I saw this, my heart sank:

Mark Foster: The world lost a great man. Kale Garner was a guy I will never forget. RIP in the big bunk bed in the sky.”

I read that and all I could say was “What? Oh my God”.

Mark and Kale were two of my students from when I was a Don. They were my 813D boys. My 813 house was probably my favourite house from top to bottom. There wasn’t one guy in that house that I didn’t like and think highly of. 813 A was Adam, B was Rob, C was Steve and D was Mark and Kale.

Mark told me that Kale had died running a Marathon in Toronto the previous day. I found this article, a vague, general article that would have been sad to read flipping through a paper, but was heartbreaking reading knowing that it was someone I knew. It didn’t make sense to me at all. It had been over six years since I met Kale and he was one of my students, but the way I remembered him didn’t computer with what had happened. Kale was an athletic guy. I remembered that he loved Hockey and Golf and that he’d played hockey for years. He was an extremely active and healthy guy. I think I remember catching him on the way to the gym a number of times that year he was in my court. I just didn’t get it. Another story running with this one was that an 100-year-old man had finished the race. It made no sense to me, how could a 100-year-old man complete this race and a healthy 27-year-old drop dead? It happened though.

I only knew Kale for a year and the news had me in tears, I can only imagine how much this hurt his family and his life long friends.

As I’ve said, I only knew Kale for year. We were for a while Facebook friends though and I always tried to wish him a Happy Birthday, because it was easy to remember, it was the same day as my sister’s.

Thinking of birthdays and Kale made me laugh because I remember the year that I was his Don. I was only 20 when I was a Don and I didn’t really share that with my students, because I knew that most of them were my age. I had fast tracked, they had taken a year off and I knew, that if I wanted them to listen to me, having a number of them know that I was younger than them wouldn’t help me.

One night though, I was outside and I was talking to my 813 boys, Kale included and our ages came up, they all assumed that I was in my mid-twenties and I looked at them and said you would be surprised. Kale looked at me skeptical and said how old are you? I knew when all of my students birthday’s were so I looked at him and I said, actually, I am 6 months younger than you are. He was shocked, he never would have guessed that.

Kale was an amazing guy. He wasn’t one of my more visible students, but he was one that I really truly liked and could see be friends with. Kale was charismatic. I don’t think I remember a time when he wasn’t smiling or laughing. His smile was infectious and his sense of humour was amazing. He was also incredibly smart and studious. Kale was also a very good-looking guy, but he was humble, charming, kind and considerate. He is one of my students, who I will always remember. I will remember his name, his smile and his personality, he is not someone that could be forgotten

I had the hardest day of my life that year that I was a don. My grandpa lost his battle with Cancer on October 16th 2004. I was extremely close with him and this news brought my world crashing down around me. I remember that night, knowing I wouldn’t be able to sleep I was out in my court talking to my students and like a number of nights some of those students were my 813 boys. They told me they were sorry and that they were there if I needed help. It is something they probably wouldn’t remember, but I do.

It is hard to think that Oct 16th was the hardest day for me 7 years ago and Oct 16th from this year is probably going to be one of the hardest days for people who loved Kale.

My heart goes out to his family and his long time friends. I only knew Kale for one year and I know how sad this news made me, I can only imagine the sadness others must be feeling. My deepest sympathy to his family and friends. I hope that you remember all of the amazing memories that you have of him and that those memories help you through this difficult time.

27 is far too early to lose someone, especially someone with as much promise as Kale.

If you didn’t know Kale, but would like to know a bit more about him read one of the two following articles that I found tonight.

Garner’s smile brightened room

Kale Garner had everything going for him when he died running a half-marathon

Also his Obituary:

Garner, Kale David – Passed away unexpectedly on Sunday October 16, 2011 at the age of 27. Loving son of David and the late Celine Garner (nee Latulippe). Beloved brother of Jill and Jodi Garner. Kale will be remembered for his smile, loving nature and always finding the humour in life. Kale attended Brock University, achieving his BA in Political Science, later completing his education at George Brown College in Financial Planning. He was in the process of becoming a Certified Financial Planner. Kale leaves behind many friends and colleagues from Cardinal Golf Course and most recently Assante Financial Management. As an avid hockey fan, he played for several years as an East Gwillimbury Eagle and later continued playing pick-up games with his friends. Kale’s stories and memories will remain in the hearts of those that loved him as he will be remembered as a great friend, son and brother. Friends may call at the Roadhouse & Rose Funeral Home on Wednesday October 19th from 7-9 p.m. and Thursday October 20th from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. Funeral service at the Cedarview Community Church, 1000 Gorham St., Newmarket on Friday October 21st at 11 a.m. followed by cremation. In lieu of flowers donations on his behalf may be made to the Heart & Stroke Foundation.

If you feel moved by anything that I wrote, or those articles please think about donating to the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation.

A couple of pictures that I had from when Kale was one of my wabbits:


Moving into/Living in Residence

Fanshawe today posted a PDF titled “Residence Packing List”

Last week I ran into a girl at a store in the mall who was preparing to move into residence.

As someone who lived in residence for four years of university and was involved in all things residence, including being a Don/RA one year I have some tips for those moving into rez or dropping a child off for their first year.

Packing for and Moving into Residence

1) Make a list – if you don’t have a list, feel free to use the one I have included at the end of this blog, it probably needs some updating, but it is a good basic list. Know what you need to take with you as far as clothes, food, supplies, etc.

2) Organize your packing, buy boxes, crates and things that will making moving easier, but also organize your room to maximize your space and so similar things are packed together. Pack a dolly or a trolly if you have one. You can also buy them relatively cheap, my parents bought one to move me back when I was in school

3) Buy some labels or masking tape and a pack of sharpies. Here is why: Put your name, residence and room number of all of your items. Move in day can be insane and often you can be unloading you vehicle on to a side-walk, taking trips to and from the sidewalk to your room with your possessions, and often you can’t take everything in one trip. So label everything, if something gets picked up by mistake, but has your name and your location on it, it will find its way back to you. Also the rez move in staff will love you for this because it makes their job so much easier. They are helping hundreds of students move in and have trouble remembering where they are going, so if it is written on what they are carrying, it is a great refresher and makes things move more smoothly, also they don’t have to wait for you to return to ask you where it is going.

4)Read and take with you, all of the material you were sent on residence. You may need your room assignment sheet to pick up your keys, along with your student ID. But also read what they sent you, these materials can include important information on what you are allowed to bring into residence and what you are not and they can also provide an introduction to the rules you are expected to follow in residence. Read them, so that if you have questions or concerns, you can ask your Don/RA before you find yourself in trouble.

5)Check out Facebook, this started back when I was in University, though it was hi5 not Facebook my students were using. Get online and check for the name of your residence, name of your house/hall/court/block/floor you might be able to connect with some of the people you are living with, which makes the transition a little easier, especially if you have roommates.

6)If you can, get the dimensions of your room, that way you don’t pack things that you don’t have room for. It’s a little late now, but if you can visit the residence you are moving into to get an idea of the space.

7) Pack a box of Kleenex in your vehicle for your Mom when she breaks down a dozen times during the day, including the long lonely drive home.

7) Parents this one is for you, you’ve bought your students everything that they need, but I will tell you there is one thing that my Dad got me that wasn’t something I needed, but something that meant a lot to me. My Dad bought me a package of those fat crayola crayons we all used to use in Kindergarten. He told me that it felt like yesterday he was sending me off to Kindergarten. He also said that everyone needed some crayons for when life got stressful, and we needed to simplify. It was also a sign that even though I was on my own, I still had my parents and they were behind me. These crayons hung pinned to my bulletin board for four years of University and always picked me up when I was down. Find something that will mean something to your child, something that will make them smile and pick them up when they are down. University/College is a great experience, but missing home happens and so does getting overwhelmed.

Living in Residence

1) Know the rules; I know, I know, rules suck, but they are there for a reason, be aware of them and do your best to follow them. Not following them can land you in a lot of trouble within residence and even with the police. Be educated and talk to your Don/RA. I spent the first week of my year as a Don talking with my students about the rules. They could ask me anything they wanted, tell me why they didn’t agree with it and I explained to them why those rules were there. For the most part, that made my court one of the best that year. My students knew the rules and while they didn’t always agree with them, they respected them and respected me. So talk to your Don, understand where they are coming from.

2)This is a safety thing, but know the emergency numbers on campus – Campus Security, Footpatrol, Your Don, Your Head Resident, have these numbers at your fingertips in case you or someone else needs help. Whether it is having Footpatrol walk you home at night after a late class, or calling your Don because some one is having a health problem, know the best ways to get someone help. There are people with health issues and there are people who will have bad experiences with alcohol; it is better to be prepared rather than caught off guard.

3) Get to know your Don/RA, get comfortable with them, so that if a residence (roommate problems) or a personal issue (depression/homesickness) comes up you know that you can go to them and feel comfortable talking to them. They are trained to help you get through almost anything and everything or know who to call if they don’t.

Now the Less serious stuff …

4) Get involved! There are so many great things to do in residence and on campus. There are students groups, councils, events, sports, etc. Find what you love and get involved. This is a great way to meet new people,  build life long friendships and figure out what things you really enjoy. I know that some of the stuff may seem lame to some, but give it a chance, you might have fun, or you might meet a good friend.

5) Start a group, take initiative. You want to create an ultimate frisbee group in your building, check with your Don, make sure there is nothing special you need to do, and then do it!  Arrange outings! Be social, if that’s your thing.

6) Create space and time for you. Sometimes you need “you time” in residence and it can be hard, especially if you are in a small room with a roommate. Take time for yourself when you know your roommate has a class, or find a quiet place on campus just for you.

7) Scope out the Laundry room, figure out what you need for coins (a lot are card swipes now) and figure out the best time to do your laundry. Trust me once you have perfected this, doing laundry will a piece of cake.

This is an education tip/trick:

8) Use calendars and lists. Know when things are due and have a check list. A lot of things end up due at the exact same time or all in a row, create a list of everything you have to do (or maybe just the big things) and cross each item off as you finish it, trust me this will make you feel good. Knowing you have 20 things due can be overwhelming, but seeing a list shrink as you accomplish things can be motivating and make you feel like you breathe again.


Most of all, have fun! Enjoy your residence experience. Most of my best friends today are people I met in residence. 

Let me say this though, not everyone has a great time in residence, and that is ok. Residence isn’t for everyone, but give it your best shot and if you don’t enjoy it, make friends off campus, bury your head in your books and know that Residence is only an 8 month experience that will fly by. 


The List

The Packing/Move in List – This is the list I created as a first/second year student back in 2002 and 2003. It has been used by many friends, many family members and many strangers. Not everything on this list may be allowed in your residence, so check out the residence rules if you’re unsure. Each University or College has different rules on certain things, so know what your residence allows. And sorry guys, this list is a bit more female oriented, so just ignore things that don’t apply to you or your child.


School Checklist

Bathroom (* if own bathroom)

* shower curtain/curtain clips

* bathmat

– 3 to 6 towels/hand towels/washcloths

– toilet paper

* bathroom cleaning supplies

* toilet brush

* door hanger/shelf

– toothbrushes/toothpaste





-polysporn cream


-advil/Tylenol (ibuprophen/acetominephine)

-razor/shaving cream

-nail clippers

-cotton swabs/balls

-lip balm/gloss

-blow dryer

-pony tail holders/hair accessories

– make-up items


-bathsoaps etc


-paper towel

-nail polish remover

-face cleaner



-hair brushes/combs


-contact solution


– Flip flops if communal bathroom

– Carrier for your stuff if it’s a communal bathroom




-Duct Tape

-Masking tape

-sticky tac

-Flashlight (one to carry in bag)

-Screwdrivers (possibly one for eyeglasses and a regular one)

-Push Pins

– Ipod/Ipad/Mp3s/Tablets and their chargers etc

-Stereo/Docking Station

-Book Bags/ Dufflebags

-Key chain/clip

-extra light bulbs

-floor lamp/desk lamp

-milk crates

-drawer plastic containers


-garbage can

-alarm clock





-gym/beach towels

-tv/vcr/dvd/dvr and cabling/accessories

-Gaming equipment

-sport equipment


-Laundry baskets/bag

-laundry soap/Zero/stain remover

-cordless phone

– room decorations…pictures, nicnaks, stuffed animals etc

– deck of cards

– pencil crayons and construction paper

-cell phone/ charger/ calling cards



-bottled water/drinks

-fridge magnets

-dust cloths/dust stuff



-debit card

-health card

-social insurance card

-hospital card


-cheques (if necessary)

-batteries (AA, AAA, D)




– door stop

– map (if you are new to the area)



-coins (whatever laundry machines take)


Kitchen (*if a full kitchen)

-Can opener

– hot pot (can make pasta, rice, or make tea)

– tea kettle

-sandwich maker

-cheese slicer

-cheese grater



*oven mits

-silverware/kitchen utensils

-tea towels/dish cloths


*Toaster (not allowed in traditional rez)

*pots and pans

* Cookie sheets

* corning ware

* Mugs/glasses etc



– mini Fridge/Freezer (not allowed in some residences, only allowed to have the ones they provide)


School Supplies

-Computer w/ proper requirements and cables


-paper – printer and lined

-paper clips

-hole punch





-pencil lead

-pencil sharpener


-notepad (mini maybe)

-white out







-citation book

-day planner (in book store or sometimes free at frosh fair)

-scotch tape


-post it’s

-erasable board markers



Move in material/start material    ** wear comfortable clothing and shoes for the move in

– all information from the university

– resident assignment sheet

– phone plan information

– fridge rental info (if necessary)

– orientation week guide

– dcb cheque (if needed)

– student card

– move in procedure material (know move in time)

– moving cart

– textbook list

– resident handbook

– time-table

– all passwords and codes necessary

– registration guide

– campus map

– contact list

– OSAP information

– cash




– bras/underwear/boxers etc

– socks

– jeans

-tear aways/comfy pants/yogapants




-sweat shirts

-bathing suit


-formal wear/semi-formal wear

-jackets (fall/winter)

-gloves/hat etc.



-running shoes


-dress shoes





Good things to invest in

– photo copy card!



Memories from Brock University – RLS

As I have mentioned Monday June 6th marked the 5th anniversary of my graduation from Brock University.

I was a rez kid. I lived in residence all four years of university. In part because I hated public transit and feared I would get lost or never make it to class and part because I loved the environment and the people.

I have always been a bit of a keener and overachiever; a natural-born leader. When I started at Brock I read everything I could about the school. I was the person others went to when they had a question about anything related to life at Brock. I blame that partially on the fact that I like to learn and partially on the fact that I was underage my first year, while the rest of my floor wasn’t and I really didn’t have anything better to do. I was also the person that looked after everyone else. I was known as “Mommy Sarah” to many people my first year because despite being the youngest person on my floor, I was the person that looked after everyone.

In third year I put my extensive knowledge, excitement for residence and care taking skills to use when I was hired as part of the Residence Life Staff. I was the Don (that’s what we called RA’s) of the Wetherald Wabbits Court in Village (also known as court 8, I believe the Wetherald Wolverines now).

I was part of the Village South Staff, a team of 7, usually. Our staff was what we occasionally called the land of the misfit toys. I was myself was a late hire. Village was originally split into South, North and West, but some staff movements shrunk it to North and West. Village South started with a team of six, then grew to a team of seven, with only four of the original six. Our staff ended up being Carly (Head Resident), Charlotte (4), Mike (7), Myself (8), Rachel/Meghan (9), Breanne (10) and Carlo (11) and the ghost of Brian (Don Designate) who was moved to another building.

Life in Village is a unique experience. The buildings, as I was told, were originally built as temporary housing, that wasn’t supposed to last more than a decade. Village was built in 3 stages, Courts 1-6, then 7-9 and then 10-12. South was built from Court 4 (the original village) Courts 7, 8 and 9 (the middle) and Courts 10 and 11 (the newest).

I remember the day I moved in, my Mom looked around my apartment, house 807, and turned to me and said “Are you sure about this?” She said this because the handle on my oven was nearly falling off (I think it was attached with duct tape), a couple of cupboard doors were loose and knobs were missing from my kitchen drawers. I had lived in the newest residence the previous year, a beautiful residence that had just been built and never lived in.

The accommodations in village might have been a bit more worn down, but the house wasn’t what mattered to me. I was going to be a Don. I was going to have a court of 75 students, well 74 (other than myself), ended up being 73 actually as one of my houses never did get a 5th person.

I loved my court, I loved my job. I didn’t necessarily always feel in sync with the staff aspect of my job (the meetings, team building etc) because I was a late addition to staff. I did though love my students and doing things for them.

I was so excited to be a Don, I spent so much time preparing. I made headbands for each of my students. They were cut, sewn (so that they didn’t fray) and decorated  by hand. I also created a quilted flag/banner for my court. It was hand drawn and glitter glued. (I must note all the sewing was done by my grandma, I am useless with a needle/sewing machine). I made personalized door boards for each of my students. I even built  a website for the court ( I wish Facebook groups/pages had been more popular/in existence then) so that my students could stay up to date and have access to quick links they would need throughout the year. I also put some time into perfectly decorating and laying out my courts community bulletin board. And most importantly I created a House Information sheet for each house to fill out so I could learn about my court and create a court contact list.

I was so prepared for my students, when they arrived I was a bouncing bundle of energy (typical of any Don). I knew all of my students names and ages (so I was prepared for under aged drinking) and I was quick to put the names with the faces and the houses they lived in.

Village was typically a difficult residence. It often had the most problems and discipline issues and I had heard a lot of horror stories from Dons and even students about Village. Dons who though their courts were evil and students who wished their Dons would do more. I was determined to make sure neither of those things happened to me.

I made an effort to get to know my students. I spent the entire first months sitting outside at nights talking to my students. I kept my door and blinds open as much as possible and created an open door policy. My students responded well to both. I remember the first week when we had to do rounds, one of my co-workers came into my court and looked at me and asked me “How did you make your students so afraid of you?”. The question made me laugh, but I understood it. My co-worker’s court was really challenging, creative several discipline issues in the first several days and my court appeared nearly angelic in comparison. My court wasn’t afraid of me though. I had done two things that I really think helped me with my court. I’d spent every night outside talking to them, but I did something also that I think was more important. Residence had specific rules and guiding principles. At my very first court meeting I told my students to read the book and I told them that if they had any issue with the rules or questions about them, they had a week to find me and we’d talk about them. The first week that I spent out in my court talking to my students they took my up on my offer and a number of them asked me about rules, questioning their validity. Some of the rules were hard for students to agree with (i.e. no beer bottles allowed, but coolers are allowed), but after talking with my students they could understand and respect the rule, though not necessarily agreeing with it.

After that week of talking about the rules my students knew what the rules were and what my expectations were for students behaviour. My students knew that I wasn’t writing them up to be mean, or because I was on a ‘power trip’. Most of them  knew that I liked and respected them as individuals, but that certain behaviour had to be addressed. There was occasionally some negative response, but for the most part, when my students broke a rule, they were good about it. They didn’t yell or argue me, instead they tried to sweet talk me out of it and then calmly accepted what I had to do. For the most part though, my students tried to avoid break the rules, at least in plain sight.

My court was a great mix of people. I had 8 houses of guys and 7 houses of girls (I was happy to have more guys than girls, I can handle guys better for some reason). They were interesting people. They were kind, thoughtful, respectful (mostly) and overall a lot of fun. The back wall of my court was a set of three houses of guys. There were a couple of guys that on occasion gave me some grief, but for the most part that back wall was my favourite group of houses. The guys who lived in those houses had an overwhelming amount of personality. They were funny, charming and always respectful and accommodating. They are the guys who would default to charm, when they were caught outside with open alcohol, or underage with alcohol. While most Don’s got attitude when they were dumping beer, I got hugs from my boys.

It wasn’t just that back wall though that I loved, it was all of my houses. I had a second year student named Adam who I took an ethics class with. We had heated debates on a number of occasions. He was a hardcore George Bush loving right-winger, and I was pretty well the opposite. I had a girl named Kristy who was so outgoing and energetic, who played volleyball with my rec league team. I had a house of five girls, often six (a friend of one of the girls who didn’t actually live in my court) who often found themselves facing some kind of problem , typically an ambulance requiring problem. I had a house of five boys who were a constantly source of entertainment. One guy tried to convince security that his beer was orange juice (he was under age) and tried to convince me that  he had nothing to do with the pylon I watched him carry into my court. And his house was the lucky recipient of a set off fire extinguisher through an open window in their kitchen. Oddly enough this guy joined me on security the next year, I couldn’t have been more proud.

I had a student named Iiljas, who was probably the sweetest, softest spoken guy in my court. He had a brother who would visit my court too. They were the nicest guys.

There was also my loudest most outspoken Wabbit, Andrew, my Bermudian student. He was always a source of entertainment. He was also the most social person in my court. He was a lot of fun, but on occasion if I wanted to get anything done, I had to turn him away.

Lastly I will mention Matt, he was my “Wabbit of the Year” when all was said and done. He was my most involved student and by far my most entertaining, he was a drama student, inspiring comic and a proud Scotsman. He was not along my student, but he became a great friend. He was someone I talked to often and shared interests with. He is someone I still try to keep in touch with every now and then.

Third year was a challenge, I was a student and I was a Don and I was facing the most difficult year of my life personally. On October 16th 2004 I lost my Grandpa to Lung Cancer, after a brief three to four month battle. I had to go home for a week to be with my family to help them through this difficult time and to have my opportunity to say goodbye and heal in my own way. My students, my staff, the larger staff and the security staff were unbelievable. When I sent my students an email letting them know that I was going to be away and why, I received several messages of support from my students and offers of assistance and condolence when they saw me. A big fear for any Don is that when they aren’t there, their students will go nuts and break every rule in the book, the whole while the cat’s away the mice will play logic. I had someone look after my court while I was away and I was happy to heard when I came back that my students were as awesome for her as they always were for me.

My students were so kind and understanding and helped me a lot through this difficult time. They made an extra effort to make sure I didn’t have things to deal with. Beyond my students, the RLS staff was great to me as well. I received support from a number of unexpected sources and most importantly from my staff. My staff was there to listen, and there to sit in silence when I wasn’t ready to talk. They were always there to distract me or make me laugh, or just to console me when I needed it. I was also lucky because I was close with many of the members of our student security team. The teams who knew me the best would always stop by  to chat and give me hugs.

The people I met during my third year as a Don were the kindest, most inspiring individuals. All of the people I met that year made an impact on me as an individual and I am honoured to say a couple of them are still very good friends of mine, who will likely be in my life for the long haul.

That year by far was the hardest year of my life. I experience the worst loss that I have had to this point in my life. I could have gone to a very dark  place that year, but because of my job and the people I had around me, the worst year of my life, was also one of the best.

Being a Don is a lot of hard work. Long hours, lots of meetings, lots of paperwork, programming, counselling, etc., but I loved it. I felt like I made a difference for my students and the people I worked with.

While I may look back at that year with sadness for the loss of my Grandpa, I will also look back at that year with a lot of laughs and smiles. I had so much fun that year, through all the problems and the pain. That year taught me a lot about myself and my personal strength.

I am so thankful for that year that I had as a Don. That job and those people gave me an escape from my personal reality and gave me something positive to remember from that year.

I may have lost my grandpa, who I was extremely close with, but I gained my best friend Matt, who was part of the student security who always checked in on me, a number of other friends and an immense amount of stories and memories that will forever be with me.

Memories from Brock University – Friends

Today marks the 5th anniversary of my graduation from Brock.

As I mentioned in my last blog, I was going to blog some of my best memories from Brock.

While Brock was four amazing years, they were also four incredibly hard years. Each of the four years, there was a death in my family, in addition to a lot of health issues and scares.

In first year my paternal Grandpa passed away on January 16th.  I did what I call a drive by funeral. I left school late one night, drove home for the funeral the next morning and drove back to school that afternoon.

Shortly after my maternal Grandpa had a triple bi-pass surgery and was lucky to make it off the table.

In second year, my Dad’s Uncle, who when I was little I mistakenly called Grandpa, died from heart failure.

The summer before third year my Grandpa was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. He died on October 16th.

In the winter of my third year my maternal Grandma was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy.

The following summer my Grandma had hip replacement surgery.

That spring we found out my sister was pregnant.

Sometime around the beginning of fourth year, my Dad’s Aunt (my previously mentioned uncle’s wife) also passed away from a heart problems.

In the fall of my fourth year, my sister went into premature labour and my niece was born on October 7th, approximately a month early (I believe it was). She was immediately taken to NICU and spent the first part of her life there.


I’ve always been a fighter. I am typically a strong person, who holds it together for everyone else (which I did through all of this). But when I was back on campus, where no one needed me to hold it together, I needed the strength of my friends.

First year it was a group of guys who helped when things were hard. D’Arcy was my go to guy, he was probably my best friend first year. I injured my right (dominant) hand early in the year, skinning several layers off of the palm, but he helped me bandage and take care of it (because doing it with one hand was a bit difficult). He was also there to talk and listen when things were challenging, just like Colin, Saj and Matt, who were there to talk, listen and distract me when I needed it.

Second year until now I have had a group of strong female friends. I met Erin S. my first year, but I didn’t really get to know her that well until second year when I was roomed with a good friend of hers, Erin K. Erin K. and I had another roommate Sayward. This trio, while I may not talk to them all the time, are people who no matter how long we go without talking, we are able to pick up right where we left off. They helped me through a lot, and were there for a lot of really good times too.

Third year was my hardest year. That was the year that my grandpa was diagnosed with lung cancer and ultimately succumb to it. That year I was a Don (Resident Advisor) and a third year student who was trying to get the grades to get into fourth year honours. So it was a challenging year to begin with, but when my Grandpa passed away, the bottom fell out. While I was able to hold it together a fair amount of times, there would be time where I just couldn’t anymore. I remember when I got the call, I held it together long enough to get through the phone call. Then I crumpled on to the floor into a puddle of tears. My roommate Erin S. heard me from her room and came to find me curled up into a sobbing ball. Erin just sat with me while I processed the news. She called my co-worker and friend Mike, along with my former roommates and friends Erin and Sayward. Sayward came over to my place with a stack of homework that she needed to do, but she spent the day in my room just talking and listening to me, as I packed a weeks worth of clothes for home. My roommates (past and present) got me through that day, probably the hardest of my life.

That day though, the day I lost my Grandpa, I gained the person I consider my best friend, Matt. I had met a guy who was working security on move in day. I found him sitting outside of my court at 7:30 a.m. There was something about him, I had this gut feeling when I met him that I’d met him for a reason. The day my grandpa died I ran into him at a residence dance that my roommate had dragged me to. We talked briefly, but when I went home I added him to MSN. When he accepted and logged on, I asked him to do me a favour. I told him I was going to be away for the next couple of days, maybe a week, and I asked him to make sure he and his security co-workers kept an extra eye on my court (not that my court ended up needing it, they were fantastic while I was gone, and a great support to me). Anyways, he asked me why I was going to be away and I explained the situation. From that point on, for the rest of the year we spoke nearly every day, for most of the day. We spent a lot of time together and almost every time he worked a security shift on my side of campus he would stop by and give me a hug. He barely knew me when I lost my Grandpa, but he became someone I could talk to about anything and everything. He was someone who could make me laugh, and who instinctively knew how to deal with me when I was stressed out or having a meltdown. In the 7 years since we met, Matt and I have been through a lot, but he is probably my biggest cheerleader. When something good happens to either one of us, we text or message each other. When something goes wrong, we text or message each other. We may not talk as much as we used to, but not matter what I know he is there for me if I need him.

Last but not least, is my favourite Scotian, Kate. I met Kate my fourth year, when we were both on RAC (residence action council). We immediately clicked. Kate is someone who could always make me laugh. We spent a lot of time together, including a lot of meals (which I cooked). We did homework together, despite having two different majors, being in two different years (2nd and 4th) and taking completely different classes, you could often find the two of us in my room working on school work or RAC work.

I now live in a different city than all of my friends and I rarely get to see them, but I love my friends. We may not talk all the time, but I know no matter what they are there for me and I will be there for them. They have been a great source of support and encouragement in my life. They have also been a great inspiration to me. They have all had a hand in shaping the person I am and I know that if it weren’t for each of these individuals, I wouldn’t have enjoyed (and maybe survived) university as much as I did.

I may not always remember the things that I learned in my classes (and sometimes I may not understand what I learned), but I know I will never forget the people who I met at Brock.



Memories From @BrockUniversity – Barry Joe

Monday June 6th, 2011 will mark the 5th Anniversary of my graduation from Brock University, yes that means I graduated on 06/06/06, we were the class of the devil.

In honour of the 5th anniversary I will spend the next week blogging about some of my best memories and experiences from Brock University.

I attended Brock from 2002 – 2006. I earned an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Popular Culture.

In the fall of 2001 when I applied to Brock University, I had never been to the campus. I did not step on to the campus until August 2nd 2002, nearly 5 months after I accepted my offer to attend Brock University and study Popular Culture.

August 2nd, 2002 was SMART Start, a program held every year by Brock University students to help orient first year students and their families before school officially starts in September.

I was a keener and overachiever, like I always have been and likely always will be. Before attending SMART Start I thoroughly researched every aspect of Brock University. I was the kid who the minute first year registration opened I was online (via dial-up) registering for my carefully selected first year classes. SMART Start was organized into sessions for the students and session for the parents. Since I was a keener and had already completed all of what the students sessions were addressing, I got to spend the afternoon with my parents in the parents’ session.

Little did I know then, but my over-eager attitude was going to shape my entire university experience. The afternoon session for the parents was a keynote address from one of Brock top Professors, named Barry Joe. Barry Joe was a 3M award-winning professor who worked in the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Educational Technologies (CTLET) at Brock University, as well as taught in two faculties. His role in the CTLET, as I understood it,  was to help train other professors to better utilize classroom techniques and technologies to improve interaction with and education of students.

Barry Joe’s presentation to the parents, explored his teaching philosophy through the example of one of his classes. The class Barry Joe used as an example was COMM2P90, know to students as Computer Mediated Communications. Barry openly admitted that he was part of the scribal era, romanced by books and written words upon a page. Part of his background was in German Language and Literature. Barry had a keen interest in technology though. He was interested in how the digital generation interacted with technology and how technology changed the way people perceived text, narrative and how communication was ultimately effected.

I remember sitting listening to Barry talk about his class and his belief that he had just as much to learn from his students as he had to teach them. I was in awe, completely inspired and entranced by his words. I was so excited that I had chosen a school that had a professor like this. A professor who valued the minds of his students and who wasn’t afraid to approach ‘new’ concepts, even though they may be foreign to people, including himself. He talked about his RL (Real Life) classroom, and his virtual office hours.  He conveyed stories of heated debates that his class had had on topics of digital communications and the ethics in digital communications.

I remember as I sat there with my parents, my Dad and I turned and looked at each other and said simultaneous “I/You am/are so taking that class!”. Unfortunately for me it was a second year class. I had to make it through first year before I could enroll in Barry Joe’s class. When registration opened for 2nd year, I was online (again on dial-up) the minute it opened registering for COMM 2P90 before the class filled up (I registered for my mandatory classes second).

Over 4 years at Brock I took 4 of Barry’s classes.

COMM 2P90 – Computer Mediated Communications

COMM 3P90 – Advanced Topics in Computer Mediated Communications

COMM 2P91 – Introduction to Hypertext

COMM 3p90 redone – Cross Media Narratives  (My previously classes actually helped to develop the curriculum for this class)

Barry’s classes were the classes that I always looked forward to. The semester’s when I didn’t have one of his classes I didn’t feel like myself. I didn’t feel like I was challenged or stimulated to the degree I’d come to expect from post-secondary education. Without his classes I didn’t feel like I was in control of my education, I felt like a spectator instead of a participant.

Barry is the kind of educator who makes students take ownership of their education. He is not one of those professors who stands at a podium dictating textbook material in the most monotonous of manners. Instead he was the professor who would sit in a desk facing the students, popping candy rockets while participating in the conversation. In the classes I had with him, the students were in control of their education. While he introduced a topic to us, it was up to us to determine where the discussion went and how it evolved. He always said that he loved his COMM classes because they provided him with epiphany moments; our knowledge and perspective gave him a great understanding of the world as he viewed it. Barry always told our classes that he came from the generation where both feet were firmly planted in the scribal world. It was clear though that he was an exception. While he had one foot firmly planted in the scribal world, he was constantly dipping his toes into the digital realm. He was our professor, but he operated from the perspective that he was on our territory. We, his students, had grown up part of the digital realm, and we knew far more than we gave ourselves credit for. Barry often managed to educate us by facilitating the realization and growth of the knowledge we already possessed.

While other professors were constantly breaking us down and making us unsure of ourselves and our knowledge, Barry was giving us the strength and the confidence to believe in ourselves and our knowledge. He was giving us the ability to fight for our ideas and win. While his classes were largely based on the present and the future of technology, we often found ourselves exploring historical concepts and their relation to our world. Our classes explored concepts of community by looking at Tonnies notions of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft, and by reading excerpts from Marx’s Communist Manifesto We delved into notions of identity as presented by Freud, Jung, Moeller, Erikson and many more.

We looked at the traditional construct of narrative and how narrative has evolves in response to technology and how it continues to evolve as it is reproduced across several mediums simultaneously.

One of our classes looked at hypertext books, specifically Afternoon and Patchwork Girl. We started the class looking at hypertext books and by the end of the class we were teaching Barry how hypertext narrative could be seen in movies like Kill Bill and Memento. It was a fascinating discussion, and honestly quite hilarious. Imagine a class of 15, 20 somethings, trying to convince a long-standing professor, passionate about books, that what he is talking about in terms of hypertext narratives was from our perspective easily applied to examples found in modern cinema. We made him watch a number of movies, but his reaction to Memento was by far the most entertaining. After the first time he watched it, he simply did not get it, no matter how much explanation we gave. It was so entertaining that as a gift upon my graduation, I left him a copy of Memento hanging from his door a long with a note explaining how much his presence in my academic career had meant to me.

Barry is someone I will never in my life forget. He made such an impact on me as a student and as a person. The things I learned in his classroom have extended far beyond the walls of the classroom, as they always did; they colour the way that I see the world and view digital communication. His never-ending passion for learning and education is something I hope I will forever carry with me.

His friendship, knowledge, and unwavering dedication to students and the education process is something I will forever value and is something that I wish for every student to experience.

It has been five years since I graduated, and I still cannot say thank you enough to Barry Joe for all that he taught me.

Barry & Sarah Graduation 2006