Jerik Brown received SFU's 2017 Warren Gill Memorial Award for outstanding leadership and service in his community.

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From high school dropout to SFU grad

June 10, 2019
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By Emma Keeler-Dugas

When landscaper Jerik Brown signed up for an introductory course in urban geography in 2011 he never imagined the course would be the spark that fueled his future career aspirations.  

He had dropped out of school seven years previously, but knew a return to school was essential for building a better future for his family. He discovered that geography, coupled with labour studies and history, was the perfect complement to his volunteer work in anti-poverty and housing justice.

This month, he graduates with a BA and plans to attend graduate school to further study social reproduction and issues with the rising cost of living while growing a family.

Reflecting on his journey, Brown said he had to learn everything from scratch and work hard to get where he is today and is excited to continue his community work and education.

“The courses at SFU gave me the tools to continue my volunteer work in anti-poverty and housing justice in my community,” says Brown, who works with the Vancouver branch of the Industrial Workers of the World and the Vancouver Tenants Union.

Brown took a full-time course load while also working part-time as a landscaper and raising his own family.

He adds, “It’s never been more important to go to school and learn critical-thinking skills in this world with so much misinformation.”

Brown’s work and compassion for his community didn’t go unnoticed by his peers and faculty. In 2017, he was awarded the Warren Gill Memorial Award for outstanding leadership and service in his community.