Black History Month

BHM web banner

The University of Waterloo is proud to celebrate the contributions and achievements of Black alumni and friends in our global community. As we celebrate their impact on the University and the world, we continue to work together to ensure that everyone belongs at UWaterloo.

Meet Your Community

azeezat oyawoye

Azeezat Adeyoyin Oyawoye (BSc ’21), also known as Àbíkẹ́ The Artist, creates vibrant art inspired by her Yoruba cultural heritage, through a contemporary lens. Her work depicts Black women and Orí, which translates to “head” in Yoruba but also refers to one's essence and purpose. She reimagines Orí as otherworldly beings that embody the soul. Azeezat won the 2023 Early Alumni Excellence Award in the Faculty of Science.

Learn more about her award.

percy korsah

Percy Korsah’s (PhD ’23) research lobbies for the preservation of peatlands, which play an important role in carbon storage and great potential for a low-carbon future.

“Peatlands are the underdog superheroes for fighting climate change.”

Learn more about Percy’s research 

lianne hannaway

Lianne Hannaway (BMath ’02, MAcc ’02) is a chartered professional accountant, finance executive, investor, financial podcast host and the founder of Wealth Nouveau, a financial education and coaching platform for women building generational wealth. Lianne's mission is to help women, especially black women, reach their financial goals and live better.

Listen to Lianne on the Alumni Know podcast 

leslassa robson

Leslassa Robson's (BEnv ‘19) road less traveled university journey began later than usual, at age 21. This delay was the outcome of an exciting career as Miss World Dominica.

During university, Leslassa was heavily involved in entrepreneurship (founded Hair by Lassa), residence life (as a Don and Entrepreneur in Residence) and student life (with over 12 executive roles in several student groups). Against conventional advice, Leslassa chose unique and diverse co-op experiences to ensure that she explored many of her interests during her planning degree. After graduation, she shifted away from urban planning and secured a marketing position in hospitality.

Hear more alumni stories about unexpected career paths.

immanuel onyemah

Immanuel Onyemah (BA '23) collected the 2023 Totzke Trophy as the male athlete of the year after he solidified himself as one of the fastest sprinters in Canada.

Onyemah repeated as the 60m OUA champion, winning gold in a time of 6.70s. He then went on to win the silver medal at the U SPORTS Championship, besting his OUA time with a clocking of 6.67s for a new lifetime best to earn the national silver medal. Onyemah was also an OUA first-team all-star and U SPORTS second-team all-Canadian and was undefeated in all four of his 60m races at OUA.

Read more about Immanuel's win as the male athlete of the year.

chanda prescod-weinstein

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein (PhD ‘11) was a graduate student at Perimeter Institute. Today, she is an assistant professor at the University of New Hampshire specializing in the nature of dark matter, a mysterious something (physicists don’t yet know what it is) that helps explain how galaxies and clusters of galaxies are held together in the cosmos. She is also a faculty member in the Women’s and Gender Studies, advocate for diversity in science, and the award-winning author of The Disordered Cosmos:A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime and Dreams Deferred.

Read more about Chanda in Waterloo Magazine 

Class of 2023 Featured Valedictorians

tolu wright

Toluwalope Wright (BASc ’23)

Toluwalope remembers having to design and test paper airplanes during one of his first-year classes as an Engineering student: “At the time, it seemed like a very trivial and easy exercise,” Wright says. “But it was the moment that marked the beginning of my ability to think like an engineer.”

Toluwalope graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering in Spring 2023 and contributed to the ceremony as a valedictorian.

According to Toluwalope, "whatever road we travel through, whatever decisions we take, whatever situations we find ourselves in, we must always know that we have the capacity to be great people. We must be prepared to put our best foot forward because ultimately, society is a product of its people, and so, we must ensure that we wet the right example as often as possible."

Thomass Muir (BGBDA '23)

Before coming to Waterloo, Thomass Muir (BGBDA ’23) was unsure what to study out of her three fields of interest: business, technology or design. But then she discovered the Global Business and Digital Arts program at Waterloo which combined the three subjects into one degree.

Thomass graduated with a Bachelor of Global Business and Digital Arts in Spring 2023 and contributed to the ceremony as a valedictorian.

According to Thomass, "We have the power to reimagine the world around us, to challenge the norms that have held us back, and to build a brighter future for ourselves and for generations to come. It will not be easy, and there will be setbacks along the way, but if we can draw on the lessons we have learned here, from our professors, mentors, and peers, we can achieve great things."

thomass murr

UWaterloo African Alumni Association

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After graduation, Thoko Phiri (PhD ’18) stayed connected to other African alumni and students in the UWaterloo community. Today, that group has expanded to become the University of Waterloo African Alumni Association (UWAAA).

I personally have been encouraged, because to see people who look like me, with a similar background, excelling and able to break down any walls real or perceived and then excelling and growing, it's really, really positive.”

Interested in creating your own Alumni Affinity Group? Fill out the Alumni Affinity Group Proposal Form.

Celebrating Black Communities

On May 26, 2023 the University of Waterloo held its inaugural Celebrating Black Communities event at Fed Hall. The evening’s program featured a reception and a sit-down dinner, followed by a keynote address and a fireside conversation with the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, former 27th Governor General of Canada and current chancellor at United College.

More than 300 guests from campus and the community joined together for a special evening as we celebrated Black communities at Waterloo. President and Vice-Chancellor, Vivek Goel, addressed the audience and gave thanks to all existing donors for their support of the Black Student Opportunities Fund  — a student opportunities fund designated to support current and future Black students.

dr. christopher taylor quote

Featured Events

Inspiring Black Flourishing in Waterloo Region and Beyond

inspiring black flourishing in waterloo region and beyond

February 13, 2024

Location: Kitchener Public Library

Be inspired by University of Waterloo students, alumni and staff who are engaged in local and international community initiatives that aim to address barriers to Black flourishing or create opportunities for it.

Register Here

2024 Inter-Institutional Forum of the Scarborough Charter

Bridging black connections for black flourishing

May 9-10, 2024

Location: Federation Hall, University of Waterloo 

The University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University host programming built to prioritize, share and legitimize the experiences and knowledges of Black people participating in the institution, as well as knowledges that have historically contributed to the flourishing of the academy.

Learn more 

Support Black Communities at UWaterloo

Feel inspired to give? Choose from one of the following funds below designed to promote equity at the University of Waterloo:  

black student opportunities fund

Black Student Opportunities Fund

This fund supports student well-being and transitions, enhancing student success and emergency supports, and expanding outreach and recruitment efforts.

community leadership award

Collective Movement Award for Community Leadership

Supports students who are involved with, or have positively impacted, African, Caribbean and Black communities.

engineering equity fund

Engineering Equity Fund

This fund supports activities related to diversity initiatives, including programming, outreach, research and awards in the Faculty of Engineering.

enterance awards

Entrance Awards Designated to Black Students

The University of Waterloo has many entrance awards designated for Black students. Applicants are considered for all awards that they qualify for, based on the award criteria and their responses to the application questions. This includes any additional entrance awards, based on similar criteria, that may become available.

Please contact Akua Asare Anim if you have any questions about applying for admission or scholarships as a Black student.

Advancement Anti-Racism Task Force

Black History Month is an opportunity for us to educate and recognize the past and present contributions that Black Canadians make in such areas as education, medicine, art, culture, public service, economic development, politics and human rights. These contributions have helped in our nation-building as we strive to root out systemic barriers and celebrate the accomplishments of Black Canadians. 

We are also reminded that we still have much work to do. Recent examples of racial injustice toward Black, Indigenous and other racialized communities have again highlighted the need to confront racism in all its forms.

Learn more about the Advancement Anti-Racism Task Force