Denise Mueller recognized with a Friend of the Society Award

Friday, March 15, 2019

Congratulations to the Department of Chemical Engineering’s Denise Mueller, for her recent recognition by the Waterloo Engineering Society as this term’s Friend of the Society.

As the department’s Undergraduate Advisor and Program Administrator, Denise works hard behind the scenes every day to make students’ lives easier. She is well-known for her extensive collection of inventive stress reducers and smile inducers – and her enthusiasm for helping students cope with the stresses of school.

Her considerate efforts to cheer and encourage chemical engineering undergrads year-round inspired many students to nominate her for the Friend of the Society Award. Denise is the first non-faculty member to have been awarded the honour.  

The Friend of the Society Award recognizes faculty and staff who have

  • advocated on behalf of students to eliminate elements that have a negative effects on student mental health,
  • shown a long-term commitment to and vested interest in the betterment of student mental health, and
  • taken action to directly improve the mental health of students.

Denise was delighted with the recognition from the students, mostly because it demonstrates that her efforts made a difference for the people she was aiming to help. Denise is dedicated to helping students feel comfortable and in control during their undergraduate studies. Much of her work is done quietly behind the scenes, but in the past few months alone, Denise has also organized and orchestrated numerous events to lift the mood and promote the mental health of her students.

During THRIVE Mental Health week, the Bell Let’s Talk campaign, exams periods, end of term and whenever she noticed that students may have been feeling more stressed then normal, Denise organized activities to promote positive mental health, encourage students to learn how to support themselves and, in her words, “give a friendly and supportive bit of encouragement.”

Some of Denise’s initiatives have included

  • ‘Colour therapy’ events to promote relaxation
  • Healthy snacks and space to enjoy them with classmates
  • Mental health self-care kit creation workshops that gave participants the information and supplies they needed to create their own customized kits to care for themselves during times of high stress
  • Time and a comfortable place to talk about mental health and the importance of reaching out for help when necessary
  • Sweet treats with positive reminders and encouraging affirmations

The students’ appreciation for Denise’s cheerful, supportive and knowledgeable contributions to Department of Chemical Engineering is echoed by the department’s faculty and staff.