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