GBC student Andrew Murrell finds a balance between working with young offenders, playing varsity sports, being a student leader and going to school
Between work, a full-time class schedule, being a student leader and playing varsity sports, Andrew Murrell has been a very busy man.
“In my first year I came to the school and was playing varsity baseball as a sport, and those two months you’re playing a baseball game pretty much every day after school, so just having that constant practices and games in my first year taught me how to balance more,” he said. “As I already developed that skill, each year I’d add more, so I added more until I was pretty much doing everything around school.”
In his three years at George Brown College (GBC), Murrell has played both baseball and basketball, works in the gym, is the community services representative for the Student Association (SA), all while balancing a full-time class schedule in the child and youth care program and a placement at a correctional facility for young offenders.
Murrell knew he wanted to get into the field from a young age.
“When I was 15 I left with a group of friends to go to Jamaica and we went and worked with an orphanage there, I guess I just happened into it, but once I was there I loved the connection with the kids and I decided that’s what I wanted to do for a living,” he said.
While he said he doesn’t know what he wants to do after school, he is enjoying getting to apply what he’s learned now in his placement.
“I’m not saying it’s not their fault that they’re incarcerated, but things happen that disadvantage them that other people in their scenarios may not have had. There’s a lot of poverty, there’s a lot of crime around, there’s not a lot of parents involved usually,” he said. “So, you just want to help them while they’re in there to further their education, to see them get further. You don’t want to see them again as an adult come back into the penitentiary.”
Murrell, who is 22, said he is able build relationships and create bonds with youth as someone closer to their age that they can relate to.
“Kids are the most vulnerable part of our society and there aren’t as many people as you think protecting them. Especially when you think of how many are out there homeless on the streets right now, not that many people are really campaigning that or championing that cause,” he said. “You can’t just rely on the older people to do it, so I’m really trying to get the young people involved because that’s our demographic.”
At school, Murrell gets to apply his knowledge through his work as the SA’s community services representative.
“It’s right up my alley because community service work is what I love and that’s why I joined the program, and the fact that there was this opportunity for me to represent the community at the school was just an empowering position for me to do and solve a lot of the problems,” said Murrell, adding “Well, not problems, but I guess to further my own agenda at school and bring that work in.”
Murrell concluded by giving one piece of advice for students looking to give back to the GBC community.
“Don’t feel like you have to do it alone. Get involved, there are certain people who you can speak to, whether it be in student life or in the Student Association,” he said.
“There’s a huge network of people who are all trying to do the same thing and we need more bodies all the time, we need more help, so honestly, don’t feel like it’s a bad thing to give up yourself and be part of a team.”