Stories of Discovery

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

There is a story for everything. For students discovering Conrad Grebel University College as their university home, they each carry stories that are interesting and unique in their own ways. Regardless of the discovery experience, all students are welcomed enthusiastically with plenty of activities and exciting experiences.

Sam shows off some Grebel apparel.


Second-year Nanotechnology Engineering student, Sam Drekic’s story started in his senior year of high school. He visited the University of Waterloo to tour the different residences, searching for the one that suited him best. At the time, he had never heard of the University Colleges, but that changed when he wandered into the Grebel building and found… Cookies! “I saw a table that had cookies laid out,” Sam recalled, “and so I went over to pretend to be interested with whatever there was in order to get one.” But that fake interest became very real after “speaking with the person running the booth and seeing how much they enjoyed Grebel as a student.” It was too late in the day for Sam to take a look around Grebel’s campus, but he was too interested to let the opportunity slip by. So the very next day, he contacted Rebekah DeJong, the student life and recruitment coordinator, and set up a personal tour. “The residence was gorgeous, and the fact that my tour guide was able to greet every person by name as we walked through the halls convinced me immediately. I filled out a registration form as soon as the tour was over, had a quick interview with Rebekah, and happily saw my acceptance a week later.”

Piper (middle) gets a group photo taken with friends during end of term festivities. 


Piper Treadwell, fourth-year student in Knowledge Integration found Grebel by mistake. “And it was one of the best mistakes I ever made,” she smiled. Before attending UWaterloo, Piper went to a different university for a year and lived in traditional campus housing which did not appeal to her. When she later came to Waterloo, she knew she wanted something different, “a place that had community and fun events.” Like Sam, Piper had noknowledge of the University Colleges, and simply happened upon their inviting walls. “I toured them all, and when I walked into Grebel for the first time, it felt different. It felt like the place I was meant to be,” she remembered fondly. “That may sound cheesy, but it’s true. I had my interview that same day, and the rest is history.”

Matthew stands in a Grebel room doorway with his engineering hard-hat. 

Matthew standing

Matthew in a Grebel residence room with his engineering hat.“I discovered Grebel through a friend of mine in the same program as me who suggested I visit at an open house,” second year Nanotechnology student, Matthew Scarfo said. “I was amazed by the kindness and hospitality I received on that visit from both the staff and residents. The community truly drew me in, and I’m glad I chose to be a part of it.”

All three of these students have different discovery stories, and yet all were met by the same friendly atmosphere. “Grebel made me feel welcome from day one,” Piper said. She recalled all the first year students gathered nervously outside the building, awaiting move-in instructions. The dons circulated through the group, introducing themselves to all the incoming students. “One of them came up to me and already knew my name, which instantly made me feel welcome.”

“The crazy thing is, this doesn’t stop after the first week,” Sam added. “There are social events every week and the open door tradition means you never know who you'll see come by your room. And if you want a buddy for a game of ping pong, crazy eights, or even to get outside and throw a ball, you can walk down the hall and be certain that someone will be thinking the exact same thing.”

Matthew (back) plays in a band with friends during a Grebel talent show.

Matthew plays with a band during a grebel talent show

In addition to the welcoming atmosphere, all students at Grebel receive opportunities to integrate themselves into the community. “Things like chamber choir, talent shows, and the Grebel musical make me feel included in the community and keep me engaged with friends,” Matthew said.

“Being a part of different activities not only gave me something to take my mind off schoolwork, but allowed me to get to know as many people as possible,” Sam added. “As a part of leadership teams, I really enjoyed being able to take my ideas or others' and make fun events that people could enjoy and use to de-stress. We all know that with a tough test or exams coming up, everything can feel very stressful, but even a 20 minute game of beach volleyball or spikeball can get you out of that mood and bring out the best in your studies.”

Whether one comes to Grebel to get closer to music, to make long-lasting bonds, or simply for the cookies, they will be welcomed with kindness and be included as a part of the Grebel family—a place to call home, and where friendships thrive through community.

Written by Jace Jaeden Ellis