Returning Brandon University students Natasha Genereaux and Catherine Merasty take a moment to get to know each other better while answering questions printed on balloons in the ball pit outside the Indigenous Peoples’ Centre on campus during BU orientation events on Tuesday afternoon. BU is welcoming new and returning students back to school all this week with various social events.
Brandon University and Assiniboine Community College are coming back to life this week as new and returning students gather on campus to kick off the start of a new academic year.
"It’s familiar, it feels like coming back home … there’s a few faces I recognize," Natasha Genereaux said about returning to BU for her second year. "That’s what gravitated me here, that reminder of home."
After touring universities across the province, Genereaux, from Pasqua First Nation, felt that Brandon was the right fit for her.
"BU for me was a personal choice, I chose it, I didn’t let my parents choose it for me," she said. "I liked it because it was a small town but city atmosphere and I could be independent without getting lost."
Genereaux spent her first year of university living in residence, but has since moved into an apartment with a friend she made on campus.
"It was a good experience," she said. "That’s how we were able to get to know people, make new friends. It was a good adjustment coming from home to a new place."
The Indigenous Peoples’ Centre on campus has also helped her stay connected with what’s going on back home.
"We all just kind of gravitated over here because we all came from the same places and can relate to each other."
The IPC also helps new and returning students settle in to life on campus.
"A lot of students, especially moving into residence, they don’t have any contacts here, or very few, they’re coming with their friends, so if they don’t make a good start ... then they won’t stay," IPC director Rhonda McCorriston said. "Any time you move to a new city, your diet changes, your lifestyle changes, everything that you do and everything that you believe in changes and if you don’t have somebody to walk with you, it’s a very lonely, scary place so we are trying to address all that."
BU kicked off the start of a new school year on Tuesday with students, parents and staff banging on drums during a team-building session, led by the international Drum Café group, in the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium.
Over the next two weeks, students will take part in a pancake breakfast, barbecue, dodge-ball tournament, teepee raisings, two socials organized by the students’ union, trivia and karaoke nights, learning skills workshops and information sessions.
"I feel like it’s going to be a really good year," said Brandon University Students’ Union president Stephanie Bachewich. "I’m just really excited with our council and we’re all just really excited to get things going."
One of BUSU’s goals is to increase student involvement on campus and restore school spirit, she said.
"We want to encourage students to go to Bobcat games more, that’s really big for us. School spirit we feel is kind of lacking right now, so we want to try and amp people up and get them excited."
BUSU has also become more active on social media by updating its Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram accounts more regularly.
"The BUSU Twitter is being used more than it ever has before," Jenna Clinton, BUSU vice-president external, said. "Before it was used to promote events that were coming up but now students can talk to me on it. If they have any questions, they can send us a tweet and I will respond to them."
BUSU’s biggest event of the year, the Rock The Block street festival in the Downtown Hub, is just over a week away and ticket sales are starting to pick up now that students are back in school.
The outdoor concert on Sept. 13 will feature performances by Dallas Smith, Helix and Juno Award winners The Sheepdogs.
"The student population is really excited to see Dallas Smith, that’s gone over well with students, but people in Brandon are really looking forward to Helix and The Sheepdogs, so it’s kind of appealing to everybody," Clinton said.
ACC welcomed most of their students during orientation events last week, but new business adminstration student Susan Horwood was on campus on Tuesday getting her locker and herself ready to head back to school. It has been 26 years since she has set foot in a classroom.
Horwood was laid off from a local pharmaceutical company last year and said she’s looking forward to starting over and "restructuring" her life.
"It’s a local, well established, good school," she said about choosing ACC. "Last time I was here before computer times, now I think it’s going to be a lot easier. Easier to access different things, notes, you don’t have to carry your own laptop ... it seems to be really good."
Second-year business administration students also gathered on Tuesday at the Riverbank Discovery Centre to put their entrepreneurial skills to the test. Students started the day with a series of creative challenges designed to put theory to practice by way of friendly competitions and then were put into teams to perform tasks similar to the hit TV show "The Apprentice."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 4, 2013