Brandon Ashcroft never saw it coming.
The Aboriginal Programs & Services (APS) English tutor was gently ambushed during the final English 114 class of this term. APS staff, students and Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies Prof. Allison Hargreaves expressed their appreciation for the English major’s dedication over the past three years.
“Brandon has been a tremendous contributor to our campus community,” said an emotional Hargreaves. “I’ve been so fortunate to have worked with you Brandon and I can’t imagine life here without you. I really want to thank you and for all your work.”
Ashcroft was always available to students, not just through his regularly scheduled hours in the Aboriginal Centre, but also via email as he provided feedback on countless papers before they were submitted.
UBC student Sarah Jacknife was one of the many students who benefited from Ashcroft’s tutoring. “Brandon Ashcroft, in my first two years of university, was my superhero whose weapons were his red pen and editing skills. Brandon always pushed me to be a better writer and I can honestly say that his writing advice helped me immensely during my undergraduate degree. Many of the editing skills Brandon taught me in my first two years of university I still rely on and use frequently within my work. I truly appreciate how open-minded and supportive Brandon has always been,” said Jacknife.
Not only was he persistent at following-up with students, Ashcroft never hesitated in volunteering for events within the Aboriginal Centre. He helped prepare weekly luncheons and was not shy on cleaning up behind his fellow students.
“Brandon has always been such a major piece in the heart of the (Aboriginal) Centre,” said Aboriginal Student Advisor Jeannine Kuemmerle who manages the APS student tutor staff. “It’s fair to say you’re not just a tutor in the Centre but you’ll be remembered for everything else you have given us.
“It’s been such an honour to work with you for the past three years. You’ve also been such a great life skill coach. We’ll miss you,” she added.
Ashcroft’s celebration quickly evolved into a potluck luncheon where everyone, including students, contributed items to the buffet table. The day was emotional for Ashcroft who reflected on his experience.
“It was wonderful. I didn’t expect it,” said Ashcroft whose hometown is Hay River, NT. “This place has always been a big part of my university experience. It’s always been a real welcoming place. If I wasn’t in class, I was here.
“I’ve learned my job was about more than helping people with English. The Elders I’ve met here have helped me understand so much about the culture.”
Aboriginal Access Students who do not have 70 per cent in English 12, have the option of taking Writing 009. If they pass the course, they gain entry into first year English. Ashcroft built many students’ capacities by providing support in the classroom, tutoring in the Aboriginal Centre and through email. He will be remembered fondly by everyone he connected with at UBC Okanagan.