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Professional Development Meets Passion for Literature: Monica Furness Reflects on her Experience as a Research Assistant

PUBLISHED DATE: Wednesday, November 22, 2017
At a larger university, the research assistant job I’ve had the past two years might have gone to a graduate student. But at St. Thomas, it went to me.
Because of this opportunity, I’ve been able to apply my English degree to practical projects, learn new skills, and discover a whole field of literature I hadn’t previously known existed.
During my time at St. Thomas, I’ve been lucky enough to work with a professor on two research projects: the New Brunswick Literary Encyclopedia, an online resource of mostly student-written entries about the province’s authors, and the New Brunswick Literature Curriculum in English, a curriculum focused entirely on the province’s literature.
Engaging in Professional Research, Editing, and Writing
As a research assistant, I helped edit and publish new entries to the Encyclopedia. Most of the entries are written by students—I’ve actually written two myself: one about a UNB-affiliated writing group called the Ice House Gang, and one about country songwriter Stompin’ Tom Connors.
I, and many other students, have written these entries in lieu of essays for course credit. Instead of writing a paper that only the professor will read, we learn how to do archival research, work with an editor on several drafts, and create an article that others can use in their own research.
Helping New Brunswickers Discover their Literature
I later spent two summers working on the Curriculum. The Curriculum’s goal is to help New Brunswickers discover their literature, which is under-studied and under-appreciated. Instead of being a tool solely for educators, the whole curriculum has been placed on its own website and is available for free.
My job when I joined the project was to proofread, contribute a bit of writing as necessary, and populate the Curriculum to its website.
It was a lot of work—I thoroughly proofread the more-than-600 page document, and I made so many calls to IT services—but, I learned so much while working on these projects, like how the editing process works from the editor’s perspective and how to use web publishing software.
And, of course, I got to work on some projects I cared about. I’m not a New Brunswicker (I’m from Prince Edward Island), but many of the issues addressed in New Brunswick literature (e.g. economic hardship, social inequality, and outmigration) are similar to the problems we struggle with in my own province. It was kind of amazing to realize these novels and poems not only existed, but that they mattered.
Thanks to these experiences and skills, I’ve got a whole pile of great literature on my “must read” list (like Elizabeth Brewster, Antonine Maillet, and Herménégilde Chiasson), and I’m considering enrolling in a publishing program when I finish my Bachelor of Arts.

New York City as a Classroom: History, Fine Arts, and Theatre students spend four days in NYC using museums, architecture, and culture as course material

PUBLISHED DATE: Tuesday, November 21, 2017
For four days Caeley Currie, along with a group of St. Thomas University students and professors, explored New York City and used its museums, architecture, and culture as course material.

The STU group packed an impressive amount of activities into the trip, including a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, a history lesson in Central Park, and a visit to Ellis Island Immigration Museum and multiple art galleries.

For Currie, a first-year student from Burtts Corner, NB, the trip brought in-class subjects to life.

“The full effects of urbanization really become understandable when you step outside of Fredericton and into one of the worlds capitals,” she said. “I also found countless essay topics from the museums and galleries we visited and had the chance to speak with and learn from some incredible people.”

As a student who’s intrigued by domestic history, the “period rooms” display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was a highlight for Currie.

“They recreated rooms complete with wallpaper, rugs, furniture, curtains, silverware, and every other object imaginable, all from real buildings that were once in New York,” she said. “Every room displayed a different time period, social class, or style. I could have spent an hour in each one of those rooms.”

Jessica Hughes, manager of the Office of Experiential and Community Based Learning, said this kind of learning experience broadens students’ perspectives and makes subject matter more relevant.

“Students from the History classes, as well as those from Fine Arts and Theatre classes, had the opportunity to get out of their comfort zones and apply their in class learning to a real world setting in New York City.”

Aside from being an enriching educational experience, Currie said spending time in New York with her peers has given her memories she will cherish beyond her time at St. Thomas.

“The silly story of that one time you nearly fell into a stranger on the train, or that rusty foreign coin you found in the middle of Time Square—those are the memories you’ll find yourself thinking about,” she said.

“Feeling your shoes scrape against the sidewalk—a sidewalk millions of people from every walk of life have walked before you—while enriching your education and seeing the world from a different perspective—if that’s not worthwhile, I don’t know what is.”

Bringing New Brunswick Authors to High School Classrooms: Tony Tremblay Develops New Brunswick Literature Curriculum in English

PUBLISHED DATE: Friday, November 17, 2017
By Monica Furness, BA’18

Dr. Tony Tremblay hopes that his newest project, the New Brunswick Literature Curriculum in English, will promote greater awareness and appreciation of the province’s rich literary history.
The curriculum is a free web resource for teachers, students, and others interested in learning more about New Brunswick literature. Tremblay was inspired to create the resource while teaching courses about the subject.
“Every time I taught that course I would begin with a little survey. What I discovered was shocking – that the vast majority of students couldn’t name one New Brunswick writer,” he said.

“And the students were perturbed by that. They wanted more content. A majority of St. Thomas students come from New Brunswick, so they had been introduced to some of this content, but not in the depth that they wanted. They felt sort of short-changed as a result. That led me to the idea to put a resource together.”  
Tremblay, who recently completed his term as the Canada Research Chair in New Brunswick Studies, set about changing this by developing the curriculum.
Designed for use in New Brunswick high schools, the curriculum features 44 authors and poets who were from, lived in, or wrote about the province, such as modernist poet Elizabeth Brewster and Miramichi author Ray Fraser.
It includes selected readings, biographical information, and strategies for teachers who wish to use the material in their classrooms.
The resource has also been placed online for everyone – not just educators – to access in its entirety.
“My interpretation of my Canada Research Chair was to develop resources that people in the province could use,” he said.
Tremblay worked closely with several students to create the curriculum and ensure it met curriculum guidelines for use in the New Brunswick education system.
“All the projects that I’ve done have had a large student component,” he said.
He hopes that the curriculum, which he considers to be the capstone of his term as a Canada Research Chair, will be adopted by teachers, and that New Brunswickers will use the resource to learn more about their literature, their history, and themselves.
Visit the curriculum website here:

Bound for Nationals – STU Moot Court Places First Overall, Earns Multiple Awards at Regional Competition in Albany

PUBLISHED DATE: Sunday, November 5, 2017
Emma Walsh, Husini Raymond, Emily Williams, and Brianna Workman all earned top orator awards at the regional moot court event in Albany.
The STU Moot Court team returned from a regional competition in Albany, NY with multiple speaker awards, the competition’s first place title, and at least two bids to the National Moot Court Competition in Dallas, Texas in January 2018.

Emma Walsh and Brianna Workman placed first overall in Albany. Walsh, a second-time mooter and third-year student, was named top orator at the event. Workman, a first-time mooter and third-year student, came third.  

Husoni Raymond, first-time mooter and second-year student, and Emily Williams, second-time mooter and third-year student, also brought home orator awards—seventh and eighth place, respectively. Williams and her partner, Camille Xavier, landed in the top four and are guaranteed a bid to nationals, while Raymond and his partner, Adriel Miller, placed fifth and may attend nationals, depending on the results of remaining regional competitions throughout the United States. 

First Overall – Emma Walsh and Brianna Workman

Workman, who studies Communications and Public Policy and Political Science, said her partner’s previous experience at nationals was a motivating factor for her. Walsh earned a bid to nationals in 2016.

“She’s so good, and I wanted to get to where she was,” Workman said. “We established expectations of one another, talked about how we were going to present and decided what our goals were. We said we’d aim to qualify for nationals and have some fun, and that’s what we did.” “Once we got into rounds,” she added, “I realized just how prepared we were.”

Walsh, who studies Human Rights and Political Science, said she was grateful for her partner.

“We had a crazy chemistry as a team,” she said. “Our first day in Albany went super well. We took all six ballots.”

In addition to coming first overall and earning the top speaker, Walsh had a more personal victory in Albany. Her direct opposite in the final round—which she and Workman went on to win—happened to be the first moot court opponent she ever faced.

“In my first competition ever, he just smashed me,” she recalled. “He was so good. That was just one year ago. To come to a point where I was beating him on the ballot this year was such a personal accomplishment for me.”

Top 16 – Every STU team makes it to second day of competition  

For the first time at a regional event, all STU teams placed in the top 16. This means every STU mooter came home with an award.

Raymond, who studies Criminology and Political Science, said he was surprised and elated upon being named a top orator at his very first competition.

“I didn’t expect it because there were a lot of excellent speakers,” he said. “The competition exceeded my expectations and confirmed I’m on the right path to my goal of being a lawyer.”

For Williams, who studies Criminology and Human Rights, being a second-time mooter had its benefits. It was also her second year matched with Xavier.

“We knew what to expect. We knew the judges would ask questions and we would rarely get through arguments before being interrupted. We were prepared.”

Xavier, who studies Human Rights and French, said her and Williams had agreed on a goal of earning a bid this year.

“It is amazing, rewarding, and humbling to have a bid to nationals,” she said. “We have put in many hours of work, and to see it pay off is surreal. It’s a culmination of teamwork and mutual support among the whole group.”

Support for Moot Court - “Hopefully they’re pleased to know we were able to accomplish this”

The success of the STU Moot Court team has garnered public attention. In October, Frank and Julie McKenna announced a personal donation of $300,000 to the program.

Walsh said the support has meant a lot to the students.

“I said, ‘He believes in us, so now we have to go win it,’” she said of McKenna. “What a kind act, and to do it in the name of his long-time assistant, Ruth McCrea, who he described her as a feisty redhead—I was like, ‘We’re feisty redheads! That’s truly the spirit of Moot Court.’”

“To have someone who has had so much success in his life shake your hand and tell you he believes in you, made me feel such gratitude and inspiration. There were people rooting for us and hopefully they’re pleased to know we were able to accomplish this.”

Road to nationals – More STU teams to compete for bids before January  

More STU teams will compete for bids to nationals before the official list of nationals-bound mooters is announced in December.

Empowerment and Advocacy: St. Thomas Student Rachel Slipp Acts as Child and Youth Advocate of Ontario for a Day as Part of Plan International Canada’s Girls Belong Here Initiative

PUBLISHED DATE: Monday, October 30, 2017
For Rachel Slipp, the most exciting part of her time at STU has been putting her knowledge into action. Recently, this led her to Toronto to act as the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth of Ontario as part of Plan International Canada’s International Day of the Girl initiative, Girls Belong Here.

Inspired by her Human Rights and Political Science courses—and what she says is a focus of classes on positive change—Slipp became involved with Plan International Canada’s Speakers Bureau.

As part of that group, she was encouraged to apply to take part in Girls Belong Here—a one-day event that places young women in seats of power, including those of government ministers, CEOs, and non-profit leadership roles in celebration of International Day of the Girl.

In her application, Slipp outlined issues that are meaningful to her, what her dream job might look like, and some of the barriers she sees standing in the way of women trying to attain leadership roles.

Of the 17 young women accepted, Slipp was the only one from the east coast. For one day, she would be the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth of Ontario.

“It was a job I’d never considered doing, but it felt like a perfect fit based on what I wrote,” Slipp said. “It is a job where you can really make a difference. I knew I was going to learn a lot.”

“I never thought about this as a job I would be able to do, but now I do.”

The real provincial advocate, Irwin Elman, afforded Slipp most of the responsibilities of his job for the day. 
“He included me in absolutely everything. He kept calling me the provincial advocate,” she said.
With Elman’s supervision, Slipp led an office-wide status meeting, where she learned about the work the office does and the projects they’re undertaking.

Later, she took a call from the Minister for Children and Youth Services for Ontario.

“He asked me a lot of questions and said he was glad to have the opportunity to talk to me, because he’s interested in being involved next year. He said me sharing my experience with him would help give someone else the same opportunity.”

Slipp said her experience in Toronto has given her a different outlook for the future.

“I never thought about this as a job I would be able to do, but now I do,” she said. “I never felt for a second like I wouldn’t be able to do it, or like I wouldn’t be able to get there someday. The day was very empowering.”

“I shouldn’t be afraid to talk about these issues and advocate for people.”

Knowing the day would be a whirlwind, Slipp made sure to capture and keep as much of it as she could. At the status meeting, she asked people if they had anything about their job or International Day of the Girl they wanted to share with her.

“I brought cue cards for them to write on, because I was just there for one day and I knew I wouldn’t have time to connect with every person there. I wanted to take their thoughts and what I learned from them home with me.” 

One card stood out to Slipp.

“It said, ‘Youth and children shouldn’t be afraid to talk about issues that impact them,’ and it made me think of how women and girls are sometimes afraid to talk about the challenges they meet—especially in a climate where many don’t think those barriers exist,” Slipp said.

“It made me realize I shouldn’t be afraid to talk about these issues and advocate for people who aren’t ready to do that, because we need women who are ready and people who are willing to support them to act, so the situation is better for future generations.”

Supporting a “Feisty Moot Court Program”: Frank and Julie McKenna Make Donation to Support Moot Court Program and TD Bank Supports Capital Campaign at St. Thomas University

PUBLISHED DATE: Wednesday, October 25, 2017
When Frank McKenna read about STU’s Moot Court program, it reminded him of his longtime assistant, Ruth McCrea, who passed away earlier this year.

That’s why the former New Brunswick Premier and Deputy Chair of the Toronto-Dominion Bank made a personal donation in McCrea’s name to support STU’s Moot Court program.

“Julie and I are pleased to announce a personal contribution in the name of Ruth McCrea of $300,000 to endow the St. Thomas University moot court team,” said McKenna. “She was a magnificent warrior who inspired confidence and respect. She gave me inspiration and courage in facing the many obstacles in public life, and she made me who I am.  You should be very proud to know that she acquired many of her formidable skills at St. Thomas University.”

McKenna said that he had worked with McCrea for 35 years and since her passing he had been looking for a way of honouring her courage, heart and spirit. 

“This Moot Court program represented everything that I admired about Ruth McCrea.  It is almost inconceivable that students from a small undergraduate liberal arts university without a law school could compete against the best and brightest students around the world and win. I can't think of a better way of honouring my feisty assistant than by supporting this feisty Moot Court team.”

STU’s Moot Court program is an experiential learning opportunity offered through the Human Rights Program. Close to 400 teams compete across the United States in tournaments and this year the STU Moot Court Team earned a bid to the US Nationals for the second straight year. STU was the only university from Canada competing and was represented by two teams, one of which finished 22nd out of 350 teams. STU students also earned speaker and brief-writing awards. 

This summer, STU students became the first-ever Canadian team to win the Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition. The team qualified by submitting a legal brief and two students attended the competition in Geneva.  They went head-to-head against Yale, beating them in the first round, and edged Oxford out on points. They mooted against the University of Buenos Aires, winning the final round and finishing #1 out of 38 schools.

“For someone who did not attend STU, Frank has had a relationship with the university that is equal to any die-hard “green and gold” alumni,” said Dawn Russell, President and Vice-Chancellor.

“These remarkable accomplishments do more than bring international recognition to STU.  They signal that we are on the right track; with dedicated faculty and financial assistance from donors, our talented and hardworking students have the opportunity to do their best and show that they are among the world’s best.  We are proud of this program, and the performance of our students,” said Russell. 

In addition to the personal donation from the McKennas, the TD Bank has made a contribution of $100,000 towards the university’s capital campaign.

“There are huge demands on the Bank's community giving program, and we would not be successful in securing this contribution without the support of our very dynamic TD team here in Fredericton, New Brunswick and the thousands of TD employees who work across the province. St. Thomas University has a long and venerable history and has been a rich contributor to the province's success. It deserves our support,” added McKenna.

“The $100,000 pledge from the TD Bank for our capital campaign is greatly appreciated.  We are already at the 60% mark in meeting our $10 million goal, and this is another step towards success,” said Russell.

Enhancing the “Full Student Experience” -- Students in Harrington Hall reflect on the positive impact of the residence renewal

PUBLISHED DATE: Friday, October 6, 2017
Students living in Harrington Hall have a bright, modern, and inclusive residence to call home.

After a year of renovations, Harrington opened its doors for the 2017-2018 school year and the upgrades were extensive.

Rebecca Kingston, a Harrington Hall Residence Advisor, said the renovations have made the building a true “home away from home.”

“The space feels brighter and more welcoming, thanks in part to the modern furniture and the bright colour palette,” she said.

“People who live here are always in the new lounges socializing or hanging out in their rooms with the doors open, while the people who don't live here are always asking to come see it.”

See photo gallery, here:

Harrington Hall is the largest capacity residence on campus and as a result was the most in need of upgrades. The general layout of the building is the same, but walls, floors, and heating systems have been updated.

The newly renovated Harrington also includes upgraded residence rooms, a kitchenette, modernized theme lounge and study areas, improved washroom layouts, as well as gender neutral washrooms.

“The designated study lounges make it easy for people to get work done and the kitchen makes it easy if you and your friends want to make dinner or if you need a midnight snack,” Kingston said.

Emily Blue, Harrington Hall’s Residence Coordinator, said the additions will have a positive influence on campus life and the residence experience for students.

“There are social lounges which have a variety of seating options and provide a space for residents to build friendships and to relax in. From all-gender bathrooms to extra-large bathrooms these renovations have taken into account the full student experience.”

Scott Duguay, St. Thomas University Associate Vice-President Enrollment Management, said the advisory committee for the renewal project wanted to ensure what students found most important would be included in the updates.

“The most important things to students were individually controlled bedroom heating, flexible furniture, improved sound proofing, bathrooms that offer more privacy, the addition of a full-feature kitchen, good wireless internet, and better lighting throughout,” he said.

“I’m happy to say all of these things came to life in the renovated Harrington, and we hope students will enjoy them for years to come.”