Brescia University Has Been Supporting Women in London, Ontario Since 1919
Brescia University College is one of the most interesting places in London, Ontario that is full of rich history. It’s Canada’s only women’s University. It’s an affiliate college of the University of Western Ontario. Brescia is a University that has, since 1919, supported and empowered women to be brave, be bold, and to choose to lead. They have crafted an environment that is meant to give women every opportunity possible to be the great leaders of this world. They have fostered an atmosphere that takes women out of the competitive mindset that society has placed women in to constantly compare themselves amongst each other and instead places them in a setting that is meant to encourage women supporting women. They have created a university that is full of strong women for students to look up to, and proudly shows that women are smart, strong, and capable of leading. Brescia University College gives students a focused feel, with much smaller class sizes than main campus students, which allows students to feel comfortable speaking up in class and asking questions. It also allows for a closer-knit class, where you’re able to get to know the other students in your classes. The smaller class sizes also means that you have more attention and access to your professors for any mentoring and help that you might need. Brescia has always fostered a culture that is inviting and accepting of every background and religion. Diversity is one of Brescia’s pillars, and has been since the very beginning. They go out of their way to make sure that international students are made to feel at home and that international and domestic students interact and enjoy learning from one another. Brescia is a University that cares about its students. They believe that every woman that wants to pursue education should be given access to pursue that education and they do everything that they can to make sure that happens. Brescia University College is located in the Masonville neighborhood. It’s one of the best places for women to get a university education and is a school that London Ontario can be proud of. It has played a vital role in the history of this great city.
Brescia is affiliated with Western University, which is the third-largest university in all of Ontario. Being affiliated with Western is a wonderful bonus for students attending Brescia. Students get to enjoy the smaller class sizes and the supportive and encouraging atmosphere of attending Brescia, as well as having more opportunity to connect with their professors (who tend to be empowering and inspiring) because of the smaller class sizes. The student to faculty ratio at Brescia is 14:1. At the same time, they can have access to all of Western’s resources. On top of that, students are able to take classes at Western’s main campus, as well as at the other affiliate colleges, Huron and Kings. The degree that students earn at Brescia are University of Western Ontario degrees.
Brescia is Canada’s only women’s university, but the question is why? Well, a study in 2009 by the University of California showed that high-school girls who graduated from girls-only high schools performed better than their co-ed counterparts. The study showed that they had higher self-confidence, incredible writing and public speaking, outstanding academic performance, and did better in what is usually a male-dominated areas: mathematics, computers, politics, and engineering. The benefits of attending a women’s-only university are that you’re in a supportive environment that empowers women. You’re surrounded by women in leadership, including the principal, which gives you plenty of mentors from women who have the experience. You’ll feel comfortable sharing opinions, insights, ideas and questions in class. Your education will be tailored to you.
Brescia University College was founded by the Ursuline Religious of the Diocese of London in 1919. In that time, women’s university education was a rare thing, but that was starting to change and the amount of women seeking it out was growing. The Ursuline Sisters had vast experience for women’s education and was recognized as such. They were women of faith and they valued developing women, social justice, and community service. This was and has always been the values on which Brescia was shaped. The Ursuline sisters worked with Bishop Michael Francis Fallon and The University of Western Ontario to create an affiliation program that would allow for Brescia Hall, which allowed women to receive Western University degrees. The very first class of women from Brescia was made up of only seven women. Their tuition was only $50.
The original location of Brescia was actually in a converted house downtown, close to Victoria Park. Land was purchased and then in 1923 they started construction on what eventually became Ursuline Hall. The hall was constructed by the contractor Joseph Michael Piggot.The University College was ready in the fall of 1925. During the beginning years of Brescia, they offered a Liberal Arts education which included English, Religious Knowledge, French, Spanish, History, Classics, and Philosophy. Many of the courses (such as Philosophy) were actually taken from Western University and were modified to be what was deemed as appropriate for Catholic Women to learn. In the first few decades of Brescia’s history the teaching staff was mostly made up of the Ursuline sisters. They had been awarded MA and PhD degrees by Canadian, US and European universities.
Diversity has always been a core value in Brescia. International students were always welcomed. In the early days women came from Latin America, Asia, and the Caribbean just to study at Brescia University College. Nowadays, women come from all over the world. Brescia has always made it a priority to make sure that international students felt that their faith and cultural traditions are respected.
Brescia has always gone to great lengths to make sure that financial circumstances did not dictate whether or not a woman who wanted to study at Brescia was able to do so. They have always provided a wide variety of scholarships, bursaries and employment opportunities to make sure that women would not be denied education based on whether or not they could afford tuition. Even to this day, Brescia is well known for having an outstanding scholarship program.
In 1936 Home Economics was added to the curriculum offered by Brescia. The program has evolved significantly over the years and today is known as the Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences. As the courses and programs that were offered continued to grow after the 1950s, they needed to address the faculty. In the 1960s and 1970s the Social Sciences grew exceptionally and they added a bunch of new teaching staff for that program. The number of students attending Brescia increased significantly from the seven women in the first class. In 1961 more than 200 students were registered which meant that the building needed to expand with the growing number of students. The Mother St. James Building was built in 1963 and with it came a location for all of the new faculty offices, more classrooms, a library and even an auditorium. The attendance at the school continued to grow. In 1982 it reached 400 students, and then just ten years later it almost doubled again with 779 students. They experienced a small decline in enrollment for the next few years, but they were able to get on top of that by strengthening their academic standards and focusing on recruitment. They reached almost 1000 students by 2006. Of course facilities have been updated to keep up with the growing numbers. They have added a South Wing as well as the Beryl Ivey Library.
The Brescia Hall Crest was created in 1924. The motto on the crest is Vides Et Veritas, which means truth and faith because education is the pursuit of truth and understanding and they wanted the students to be able to learn it all in an atmosphere of faith. On the upper left of the cross on the crest is the symbol of St. Ursula, who was the Patroness of the Usulines and was a Martyr. On the upper right is the Mystical Rose, which is supposed to represent womanhood. The Book on the lower left part of the cross is to symbolize wisdom. Then on the lower right part of the cross is the crest of the Ursulines of Chatham which is supposed to represent faith, hope and charity.
Full access to Western Amenities
Western’s main campus has an aquatic facility, which has a 50 meter, 8 lane pool and of course a diving board. Brescia students would also have access to Western’s fitness centre, which has weight, cardio, and stretching space. There are more than 200 pieces of fitness equipment with in the centre. Western also has five gymnasia and a games and activity lounge. There is also an additional cardio space for the spin bike program. Squash courts, and lounge rooms with table tennis, as well as studios with dance barres and mirrors are also available on main campus.
Brescia Student Choir
For those who love singing, the Brescia Student Choir performances for special services such as the Christmas season, Remembrance Day, and more! They have weekly practices, and the schedule is determined by everyone involved in the choir. You can find soundcloud recordings of past services here.
The Professional Mentoring Program
The Professional Mentoring Program is offered to 3rd and 4th year students. The program matches students with mentors. The mentors can be Brescia alumna or someone from the community. The mentors agree to spending at least 4-6 hours a month building and maintaining the mentorship relationship. This mentor and mentee program is a great way for students to build up their communication and networking skills and will help to prepare these upper year students for the transition into the workforce. On top of all of that, mentees can learn from the real, first-hand experiences that mentors went through. The mentors and mentees are paired up based on who would be best fit together—it is not based on career goals alone. The entirety of the applications are considered when the selections are made.
The Running Bees
This club promotes running and connects students that enjoy running together. The club promotes running as a way to maintain both physical and mental health as well as promoting running as an exciting and positive outlet from the stresses and business of student life. Students will be able to run in safe, supportive and positive spaces. Members empower each other to achieve their goals.
Public speaking can be the most daunting of tasks. The Brescia Speaks club is a public speaking club that is meant to help members improve their confidence and their skills in a safe and encouraging environment. Planned and impromptu speeches will be given by members. Members will watch speeches as well and will give feedback and encouragement to other members. All of this will be done in safe spaces to learn and improve.
Brescia Multicultural Club brings together both international and domestic students. The club unites different cultural beliefs bu sharing different customs and experiences. They also offer amazing support to international students and help them through the different cultural shock and adjustment periods that may occur. This club is part of the heart of Brescia in that it is a representation of a core value of empowering women of all beliefs and cultures to acquire top-notch education.
The Students’ Human Ecology Association is a club for all Brescia and Western students who have a personal or professional interest in nutrition dietetics, food science and technology, human ecology and family studies. This club hosts workshops and events for development. They also provide volunteering opportunities for club members that directly relate to the nutrition dietetics, food science and technology, human ecology or family studies.The club also participates in an annual and national conference for students. Of course a club wouldn’t be a club without also having social activities, and the SHEA has just that. Students in SHEA will also have opportunities to be in leadership positions on the Executive Team and those students will enjoy networking opportunities with local, provincial and national professionals. Students within the club are also eligible to receive the LHEA Student Scholarship award, the OHEA Student Leadership awards, and the National ACHES Conference Sponsorships.
The Canadian Association of Foodservice Professionals is a club for students seeking careers in the foodservice and hospitality industry. The club is a student branch of a national association across Canada that represents foodservice professionals. This club’s purpose is to give students a chance to network, educate, and have mentorship. The CAFP gives out thousands of dollars in bursaries and scholarships annually. There are also awards that are given out, such as the “Gold Plate” Award.
The PINK Ties
Brescia’s Professional Development Network, the PINK Ties, has a mission to help Brescia students accomplish personal and professional goals. They do this by providing opportunities to make connections, connect with experienced professionals, and grow valuable career skills. You’ll be connected with other like minded students that are career-oriented, alumnae and community professionals through this club. They offer events such as their LinkedIn event where you can learn to make the most of your LinkedIn account and get professional headshots done. They also have their annual Dining Etiquette event where you can have a delicious meal and learn all about proper dining etiquette. Every year they also offer a meet and greet for networking, having fun, playing games, and learning what the club has in store for that year. They also offer an event to learn about what it takes to start a career as a Chartered Professional Accountant.
The Brescia Psychology Association strives to meet the needs of its members by providing social and networking events that connects the students with one another and the London community. Their events includes the Spring De-Stressor, which is a night of yoga, refreshments and socializing, study nights, board game nights, cupcake decorating, candy grams and henna tatto nights, glow in the dark yoga night, PJs and movie night, grad school and career talks, career fairs, and the Brescia Shine the Light event which supports abused women.
Jack.org is Canada’s only charity training and empowering young leaders to revolutionize mental health in every province and territory. They do this through Talks where trained youth speakers start mental health conversations in schools and other youth-centric contexts by delivering professional mental health presentations to their peers. They also do this through Chapters which are trained groups of young people working year-round to identify and break down barriers to positive mental health in their communities. They also accomplish this through Summets bring young leaders together to learn from each other and build the skills needed to deepen their impact in their communities.
Brescia offers student many events throughout the year that are meant to give students a bit of reprieve from their busy school schedules. They also offer events that are meant to inform, grow, and connect students.
Get a proper welcome to Brescia by participating in Orientation Week. Incoming students will have the chance to meet other new students, enjoy fun events, meet your Soph, and get informed. O-Week participants can enjoy events such as BBQs, Breakfasts, Bonfires, rallys, lunches, arts and crafts, learning about Brescia, spa nights, trips to places within London, playing with Therapy dogs. Students are welcomed to participate in Western’s orientation weeks as well. Sophs are upper-year mentors that are there to welcome and inform new students. Sophs are screened and go through a training process. Brescia’s Soph Peer Mentor Program will connect new students to a Soph mentor and a few other new students. Your Soph will stay connected with you after O-Week and throughout the year.
International Bridging Program
Brescia’s International Bridging Program is designed specifically for International and out-of-province students to get a sneak peek of and become familiar with life at Brescia and in London, Ontario. Participants will have the opportunity to receive a full orientation to university life, and get to know their new peers, faculty and staff.
March Break Open House
At Brescia’s March Break Open House, you can tour campus, meet with professors and talk with staff about admission, financial aid, residence, campus life and more. You can also hear about international experiences current students have participated in, visit your future residence room and sample some delicious items prepared in the Mercato.
Fall Preview Day
At Brescia’s Fall Preview Day, visitors will tour campus, meet with professors and talk with staff about admission, financial aid, residence, campus life, and more. Attend a mini-lecture on your favourite subject, hear about some international experiences current students have participated in, visit your future residence room and sample some delicious items prepared in our dining pavilion, Brescia’s Mercato.
Brescia is all about empowering. They offer events throughout the year to raise awareness for issues such as sexual violence, food waste, crisis support, mental health awareness, and ways to stay safe.
From tea time and meditation to yoga and therapy dogs, Brescia offers events throughout the year for students to participate in that is meant to give students the opportunity to de-stress.
Fun Events to raise money
Brescia is all about giving back. They’ve had Ugly Christmas Sweater Day and Pajama Day to help raise money for United Way and other charities.
From events meant to help people practice English, to practical essay help, Brescia offers students events to help them build the skills that will be the key to their future success.
The very first Brescia Ball was held in 1938 and has been an annual event ever since. It has been an event held for over 80 years. The night is for students and faculty to get dressed up, eat delicious food, and enjoy a whole special night of fancy fun. The ball is usually themed and is one amazing memory for students to take with them for years and years to come.
Of course a University is more than just the campus life, the values, and the students. It’s important for the facilities to offer students everything that they need to get the best education possible.
The shuttle bus is free for all students. The bus runs between Brescia Kings, with stops at Western’s main campus and Huron. The bus schedule is quite expansive and goes throughout the day for convenience to the students.
All full-time students are given a year-round LTC bus pass.
Western Foot Patrol gives students peace of mind. Students simply have to call the number, give your location and a male and female pair of students from the patrol will come to you and escort you to your car, wait with you at a bus stop, or, if you live close to campus, give you a lift home.
The new state-of-the-art dining pavilion is open all through the week. With interactive menus and a wide variety, students can find something delicious to eat to suit any tastes and preference. They even have a soup and salad bar and the Grill open until late into the night. The whole thing is headed up by their Red Seal Chef and there is an emphasis on local foods.
If you’re in need of a jolt of caffeine throughout your week, you can nip into Clare Hall for a delicious Starbucks brew and a pastry.
Clare Hall is a state-of-the-art residence building. Any student, whether first year or upper year, is guaranteed a place in residence. Classes are less than a five minute walk away, which is convenient for the busy student life. The Mercato is located within Clare Hall so you’ll have access to made-to-order delicious food so close to your University home. Common areas also have kitchenettes, which have an oven, a microwave, a sink and a fridge so that you can also cook your own meals if you prefer. The residence has a fitness room, laundry facilities, common spaces, and study rooms on each floor. Clare Hall also has exclusive upper-year floors that rewards the responsibility, maturity, and independence of upper-year students with comfort that goes beyond what first year residents will be able to experience.
Mother St. James Memorial Building
Beryl Ivey Library
Beryl Ivey Library offers everything students need for studying, research, and academic help. The library has study rooms that students can book. Laptops, chargers, adapters and more are also available for students to book from the library and use. Students have access to many print and online resources within the Library and if you think that the Library could benefit from a book that they don’t have, you can suggest a purchase because the Library strives to be as helpful to students as possible. Computer labs are also available to students in the Beryl Ivey Library, as well as printing, copying and scanning. For students that need extra help or could benefit from the use of a Librarian, students are welcomed to book one on one time with one of the very knowledgeable librarians.
The Merici Lounge is a place to relax or crack some books. There are couches, tables, and beautiful views of the Brescia grounds. The Living Room Lounge is a great place to kill time while still being in the hub of things. It’s located near the auditorium, the student’s council room, student services, as well as being close to faculty offices and classrooms.
The auditorium is where many exams are held as well as where events are often held. Large windows give you views to the stunning Brescia grounds.
There is a Muslim Prayer Room off of the auditorium. It’s a sacred space for those who practice the faith to partake in their prayers in a safe and private space.
If you want to see a building that inspires awe, reminds you of a deep history, and is absolutely beautiful to look at then you are going to want to see Ursuline Hall. It’s a castle. The architecture is stunning. It reminds you that Brescia is a university college that has been around for years, which means that they have learned a great deal about how to provide the best education for its students. It stands tall and proud at the peak of Brescia hill.
There are four lounge rooms throughout the castle for students to relax and unwind in, or can study in. On top of those rooms, there is also the Rose Room and Oak Room, which can also be used to lounge in as well as events can be held in them. The Oak and Rose Rooms are absolutely gorgeous. The furniture is antique and full of history, each piece carefully selected or donated to create a feeling of warmth and luxury. The vases on the mantle over the fireplace in the Rose Room are made out of beautiful gold, copper and melted glass, which is famous in Byzantine art.
The chapel in Ursuline Hall is open for prayer and quiet meditation and reflection to all whenever the castle is open to the public. They also hold mass within the castle at noon on Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Roman Catholic Services are available in the chapel.
If you’ve ever wanted to live in a castle, as a Brescia student, that option is open to you. Within the castle, you’ll have access to the chapel, the cafe and cafeteria, as well as the laundry room.
Grab a bite to eat and hang out with friends in the castle cafe or the cafeteria.
Brescia is going to be celebrating its 100th year in 2019. To celebrate such an amazing occasion, the state-of-the-art 30,000 square foot Academic Pavillion will be built. This pavillion is to help with the climbing demand of women who have wanted to be empowered from the Brescia experience. The pavillions is going to include food and science laboratories, sensory and research laboratories, an active learning classroom which is designed to promote group work, multi-tiered classrooms, a counselling room, and a nice large student lounge and community space.