To almost anyone who has attended CBU over the past 6 years, Eli Quirk will be a familiar face. Eli is truly the poster-child of CBU involvement. His dedication to the university during his time here has extended from Caper Convenience, to the Boardmore Theatre, all the way up to the CBUSU Executive Vice President’s office.
Looking back at what brought him to CBU, Eli says it was a combination of the closeness to his home in Leitch’s Creek, and the Bachelor of Arts in Community Studies program. “The BACS program puts a large focus on working in groups, and really getting involved in the community, which was perfect for me,” says Eli. Something that meant a lot to him within the program, was a community action project which stemmed into positive space training here on campus. After receiving the training himself, Eli was able to co-facilitate training sessions for CBU faculty and staff.
Eli loved being involved on campus and creating a sense of community at CBU. He co-founded the Uniqorn Cafe, a queer friendly open mic event at the CBU Art Gallery, that encourages the exploration of all forms of art. As the Art Gallery applauds community involvement, Eli will be able to continue volunteering with the monthly event after he graduates from CBU.
When asked what he will miss most about CBU, Eli didn’t hesitate. “The people. The people are definitely what I’m going to miss most. The academic success coaches, the students you get to know in your small classes, the professors, I’m going to miss them all,” says Eli.
One professor who had a large impact on Eli’s development throughout the years, was Kate Krug, a professor of Anthropology and Sociology at CBU. She, along with Dr. Sheila Christie, created a project entitled Gender Change Room for a local art festival, which really spoke to Eli. “It was about Trans kids, and I watched it and felt like I wasn’t alone,” says Eli. Speaking with Kate gave him the confidence to push himself to graduate. He says Kate was someone who always cared about his well-being, and that he could turn to her both as a professor and a mentor.
Eli says everyone has the ability to bring something to the table when it comes to the CBU community. “I really want to see it continue to grow, and local students can play a huge role in that growth,” says Eli, “CBU needs the local people to help take down the walls, welcome international students, and build stronger connections with our Indigenous community.” He says he can empathize with students who want to leave Cape Breton and explore other parts of the world, but wants to remind them that becoming a CBU student will present them with countless opportunities to experience that exploration.
Eli has grown immensely during his time at CBU, saying “I’ve gone from someone who was in the closet, who couldn’t bring my queer identity to the community, to someone who can be out and vocal and proud.”
Moving forward, Eli’s main focus is to stay in Cape Breton, where he wants to work to continue building the community. He says CBU has prepared him to be a leader in his community, and inspired him to keep growing things on the island that he loves.