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Thursday, December 7, 2023

TEDxUW features alumni expertise

This fall, the University of Waterloo TEDx Team brought back their in-person conference after 5 years. The theme for this year’s conference was From the Ground Up, and it was all about inspiring the audience to forge their own unique paths, both personally and professionally. More than 180 attendees joined the event and seven speakers brought the theme to life with their fascinating stories, including four alumni.

On Thursday October 26, the Faculty of Health celebrated Organ Donation Awareness day with a pop-up event that shared inspirational information for campus community members. The event was led by Alumni Council member and donor ambassador for the Trillium Gift of Life Network, Eric Celentano (BSc '79), in partnership with the Faculty of Health.

After graduating with a three-year degree in Math and Physics, I could not find a job anywhere. I was 21 years old, female, and looked 14. Well, I could have been a key punch operator for Bell, but I turned that down.

Months went by and I had to get a student loan to tie me over. I was still eating at the cafeteria and Wesley (then Professor Graham to me) would stop to talk every day: "Have you found a job yet?" And then, finally: "If you haven't found a job in another month, come to me and I'll make one for you."

Every day, we see headlines about natural disasters, political unrest, conflict and other difficult circumstances that disrupt lives around the world. For many, those disruptions impede their education. 

There are more than 230,000 Waterloo alumni located all over the world. The beauty of having such a large, global community is that you're bound to find other alumni you can connect with — people who come from a similar background, live in the same city, or share the same interests as you.

Monika Snowden (PhD '21) is a nano-scientist.

During her PhD, she created microscopic structures that look like tweezers to stabilize carbon nano-tubes when manufacturing microchips. It's a very specific solution for a very specific problem.

But Monika's career hasn't been so specific. If anything, Monika is a great example of how one type of experience or knowledge can transfer into a different area. That electronic nanotech experience she got as a PhD student? She uses it today as a scientist at a water purification company. She also uses it as a podcast host.

Evelyn Stephens came towards me as I approached the apartment building entrance, my off-campus home while attending The University of Waterloo. "Would you like to work on a coffee house?" she inquired hopefully. The spring term, May to August, had just started. It was my first time enrolling in a full set of courses for the summer, and the stretch of sunny warm days ahead of me seemed endless. I recognized Evelyn from the mathematics building and near our apartment, but I had not talked with her at any length. Without having any idea of what I was getting into, I agreed. It seemed an interesting project, and completely different than the heavy mathematics workload I would otherwise be focusing on.

On Tuesday, July 4, Vivek Goel, University of Waterloo's President and Vice-Chancellor, sent an email to alumni regarding the June 28 attack at Hagey Hall.