Brescia University College, Canada’s sole women’s-only university college is a hub of female empowerment that lies just west of main campus on Western Road.
Grounded in the Roman Catholic roots of the Ursuline sisters, Brescia now prides itself in being a multi-faith community that works to support and develop women into community leaders.
Founded in 1523 in Brescia, Italy by Angela de Merici, the Ursulines are a group of strong women of faith who work to serve the church through educating women.
“[Angela de Merici] and a little group of women were bold back then, because in her day, women had two choices in life; they could be married or they could go to the convent,” explains Sister Theresa Mahoney, former Brescia chaplain.
Angela de Merici worked to create a third option for women in the 1500s by organizing a group of women of faith who worshiped privately and dedicated their lives to educating young women.
Since its founding in 1919, Brescia’s defining values have stood the test of time and significant institutional changes. Originally called Ursuline College, Brescia was entirely operated by Ursuline sisters and was located near Victoria Park before moving to the current location in 1923.
In addition to the focus on women and religious affiliation, Brescia emphasizes community.
Molly Brown, second year health science student and Residence Advisor at Brescia, loves the small community Brescia offers in addition to the access to services on Western main campus.
“I really love the welcoming and supportive community that Brescia has,” Brown says. “[It’s] such a personal education experience, both inside and outside the classroom.”
Taylor Labadie, first-year health science student at Brescia, also likes the small class sizes because of the personal interactions with passionate professors who work hard to support the success of students.
Labadie also clarifies the misconception that the smaller all-girls community makes it difficult to meet people.
“The thing I was most nervous for, or most skeptical of, was meeting new people on main campus,” says Labadie. But Labadie explains she has met people from main campus and both affiliates easily through O-Week activities, as well as the two classes she takes on main campus.
While Brescia students are encouraged to take as many courses at Brescia or an affiliate as possible, students such as Labadie and Brown in health science take 2.0 credits on main campus and 3.0 at Brescia.
Despite being a women's university, men frequent the Brescia campus. Brown mentions that she has had male students in classes such as introduction to nutrition course and leadership, which are course offerings unique to Brescia.
Overall, Sister Theresa, Labadie and Brown all agree that Brescia's focus on female empowerment seems to send students out into the world with confidence that they can impact the world.
In other words, the continuation of Brescia's core values would make Angela de Merici proud.