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Barrie girl graduates from university with 99% average

Don Fraser, QMI AGENCY

Laura Broley graduated at the top of her class at Brock University with a BSc on June 14, 2013.   Julie Jocsak/ St. Catharines Standar/QMI Agency

Laura Broley graduated at the top of her class at Brock University with a BSc on June 14, 2013. Julie Jocsak/ St. Catharines Standar/QMI Agency

Not much rattles a student with a 99% average.

Graduation day burst forth for Barrie’s Laura Broley the way it does for most students. A 7:30 a.m. alarm. A groan, followed by a deep desire for more sleep.

Plus a little trepidation, trumped by excitement.

After a nervous breakfast of Cheerios, Broley was ready for a day of transition.

“Right now I’m feeling pretty calm, but I don’t really know what to expect,” she said, inside Brock University’s Walker Complex on graduation day. “But I’m also excited to see some great people I haven’t seen in a while. And I’m doing my Master’s researching math education at the University of Montreal. So I’m also going to be saying ‘goodbye.’”

She recently joined 422 graduates, most of them in applied health sciences, and math and science.

Broley, 23, stands tall among them. Coming her way is a Spirit of Brock Medal and Dean’s Medal, for highest standing in her math and science faculty.

Her list of accomplishments is impressive. Among them is her contribution to the Brock Leaders Citizenship Society, while maintaining a 99% overall average. Her major average was a stunning 100% — possibly the highest ever achieved at Brock.

She describes her progress at the university coming from high school as “being good at math and liking it, to really loving it at Brock.

“It’s very innovative here, and the profs here just rock.”

In the minutes before heading to the gowning room and then the grad ceremony, Broley reflected that her accomplishments are not about innate ability.

“I worked my butt off for this,” said the soon-to-be honours bachelor of science grad, who’s majoring in math-related studies. “It’s basically like a 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week job.

“It feels good to be honoured in this way. These awards “¦ are some of the most important things I’ve ever received.”

By 9:40 a.m., she has joined a noisy ribbon of students heading into the gowning room inside Brock’s basketball court.

Cellphones are temporarily confiscated and uniforms are adjusted. Candidates line up in alphabetical order, their names posted on walls.

“You’re going to be very busy,” said Thomas Good, of Brock’s registrar’s office, offering Broley a mind-reeling list of instructions on how she will receive her awards and degree.

“It’s committed to memory now,” she assured him.

Moments later, Broley gives a little cheer as she locates her friend and grad-to-be Amanda Slamka, who has known her through her Brock years.

“She’s one of the hardest-working people I know,” Slamka said of Broley. “Not just in academics, but in all her volunteer work. And it speaks volumes if you’re able to keep an average like that.”

At that, the group is led into the main gym area where they are sternly advised: “No gum, water bottles, coffee “¦ no ‘i’-anything!”

After university president Jack Lightstone speaks as acting chancellor, Broley’s Spirit of Brock medal is presented for undergraduate math and science.

The award is given to one undergrad and grad student per faculty who best exemplify the spirit of War of 1812 hero Sir Isaac Brock.

“She’s been a leader on and off campus,” board of trustees vice-chair John Suk tells the Brock group.

He mentions she also established the annual Flora Broley Memorial Ball Hockey Tournament in support of the Alzheimer Society of Niagara Region. Since 2009, the effort has raised $22,000.

Next, Doug Rapelje — who retired after years spent working to improve services for Niagara seniors — delivers a stirring convocation address. He leans on his life’s work in Niagara and places beyond.

He also urges the grads to volunteer, to think of their service to humanity and to continue learning.

“Be humble enough to recognize that lifetime learning is exactly that,” Rapelje tells them. “It’s a life process, and that there is so much we can gain from others.”

Moments after the convocation, Broley waits for family and her boyfriend, Mitchell Laughren, to accompany her to a post-grad gathering outside.

She labels Rapelje’s talk as very inspiring. And she feels her accomplishments “starting to settle in.” “It’s a pretty big moment,” the newly-minted Brock alumni reflected. “I’m excited for everyone, seeing all their families cheering from the stage.”

Outside, her mom Kim Raymond is a study in joy. Raymond and the graduate’s dad, Brian Broley, offer long hugs.

“I’m glad it’s done,” said mom, pointing out the next chapter in Montreal begins now.

“It’s great to know with all that hard work, you can achieve something like this.”

For grandfather Frank Broley, the emotion is overwhelming. He is moved to tears and not fighting it.

And, he is thinking of his late wife, Flora, who died in 2007, and the local fundraiser Broley set up in her name.

“It’s harder as you get older, when you get to be 82,” he said. “I was so glad to be able to live long enough to see this.”

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