‘I found my identity in Brock,’ says four-time Paralympic Elisabeth Walker-Young, who has been recognized nationally for her athletic abilities and advocacy work.
Brock University is where Elisabeth Walker-Young (BPhEd ’02) started to get into herself.
Although she has traveled the world as a member of the Canadian Paralympic swim team, it was her time on campus — and at the Eleanor Misener Brock Aquatic Center — that would help shape who she would become.
“I found my identity in Brock,” said the four-time Paralympic athlete, who went on to be nationally recognized not only for his athletic abilities but also for his advocacy work.
Walker-Young will return to his alma mater Friday, October 14, to receive the honorary degree during the 10am ceremony of Brock’s 112nd meeting.
Traditionally a one-day celebration, this year’s Fall Gathering has been expanded to include an additional two days of ceremonies to welcome back the Class of 2020 and 2021, who have not had the opportunity to cross the stage due to public health restrictions in place at the time of their graduation.
Inheritance calling ceremonies will take place Wednesday, October 12 and Thursday, October 13, with more than 1,600 graduates again set to mark the event. More than 1,000 recent graduates will receive their degrees on Friday, October 14.
Walker-Young will deliver a summons address Friday morning.
His plans to return to college have made him think about all that he has accomplished since his own graduation in 2002 and how much he still hopes to achieve.
An inspiration to athletes across the country and beyond, Walker-Young won six medals (three gold, one silver and two bronze) at four Paralympic Games, breaking several Canadian and world records throughout her swimming career.
When he retired in 2005 after 13 years with the Canadian Paralympic swim team, he moved into a series of leadership roles and remained actively involved in the Paralympic movement.
He was the chef de mission of Team Canada (leader and official spokesperson) for the Parapan American Games Toronto 2015, following his time as assistant chef de Mission for the 2012 London Paralympic Games.
His efforts as a champion for inclusion and accessibility in sport, both as an athlete and an advocate, saw Walker-Young be named the Order of Canada—one of the country’s highest honors—in 2018.
“I feel like now, even more than four years ago, I have found more of my voice; I know more of the direction I’m going,” he said. “I am more confident in understanding the changes I want to impact in society and in sport in Canada.”
With that in mind, he plans to use his Meeting address to help inspire action in the next generation of Brock graduates as they head out into the world.
“As someone who’s been in their shoes, I hope they find my words meaningful,” he said. “They each followed a unique path to reach the finish line, and in the midst of a pandemic on top of that. It deserves to be celebrated.”
Walker-Young said she was honored to be recognized by the University as having such an impact on her life. But, he added, the work was not finished.
“In 20 years from now, I hope to do more to help underrepresented, justice-seekers and marginalized people,” said the 45-year-old, who now lives in Vancouver with her husband and former Badgers. teammate Ian and their eight-year-old daughter. “I want to have an impact on change in local, national and global communities, both in the field of sports and outside of sports. I still have a lot to give.”
Walker-Young recently took his passion for inclusion, diversity, equality, justice and accessibility advocacy to the next level, launching a consulting, workshop and training company aimed at strengthening the voices of underrepresented communities and seeking justice.
The Brock Meeting Ceremony will be held inside the Ian Beddis Gymnasium at Walker Sports Complex. Tickets required for Friday ceremony. For those who are unable to attend, all Divine Service ceremonies will be broadcast live online here.
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