The world of women in security has come a long way since Mayla Parrent entered it in 1974.
Now the assistant director of Campus Security, Parrent was the first female cadet with the Niagara Regional Police (NRP). Her uniform required her to wear a skirt and carry her pistol in a purse.
“If I went to a bar fight, they wouldn’t see brawn,” she said. “For them, I was shock value.”
When Parrent retires on June 30, she will leave a nearly 40-year career of keeping Niagara residents safe, even in times when she was one of the only women doing it. When she started at Brock in 1989, she was the first female inspector and one of only two-full time inspectors in Campus Security. Today, there are 11 full-time inspectors.
As Parrent looks back on her career at Brock, there are definite highlights. In 2007, she received a distinguished service award. Last year, she received a Lifesaving Society award for helping save the life of a student who collapsed outside the rowing centre.
“That certainly was not the first time that she was the one rushing out the door after a call was received of someone in medical distress,” said Donna Moody, director of Campus Security, who called Parrent’s contributions “unprecedented.”
When new trends were emerging in universities, such as date rape drugs, Parrent produced a video to capture the problem and inform other universities about the trend, Moody said. Even on Friday, her second-to-last day at the office, she co-chaired an Emergency Management Plan Training Exercise.
There have been lighter moments too. Parrent recalls a less complicated time when the worst security violation she had to worry about was students putting dish soap in the Walker Complex fountain during Convocation.
“You can imagine trying to figure out how to de-suds everything, wading through a courtyard of bubbles,” she said.
She recalls the inventive ways that students tried to smuggle alcohol into events. One student poured whiskey into a Ziploc bag and shoved it down the front of his pants. (“I could see that his cargo pants were a little more roly-poly than they should have been.”) A female student once carried a perfume bottle full of alcohol, spraying it in her mouth.
“When there was a fire alarm and we had to evacuate the tower, our way of telling people to come back in was me yelling,” she said.
Leaving is bittersweet for Parrent, whose family shares the serving and protecting gene. Her husband of 35 years, Damian, is a retired NRP superintendent. Her son Shaun is a detective constable in the NRP, and his wife is a dispatcher. Her daughter Kyle teaches second grade in Niagara Falls, and her son-in-law Anthony is a financial lender for Meridian Credit Union. Parrent also has four grandchildren, who she can’t wait to spend more time with.
When it comes to Brock, she’ll miss the people the most.
“The happiest parts of my job have been seeing kids who have come back and gotten jobs here,” she said. “It’s the kids who call me when they get married, or tell me when their first born comes.”
There will be a retirement party for Parrent on Monday, June 27 in Pond Inlet from 2 to 4 p.m.