Every year, six exceptional co-op students, one from each faculty, are recognized by the University of Waterloo for their contribution to their employer, their community and the further development of experiential education.
“These exceptional individuals have shown that co-op students at the University of Waterloo have a significant impact long before graduation,” Feridun Hamdullahpur says, president and vice-chancellor. “It is wonderful to see their ability to learn, adapt to change and harness a range of essential skills that have made their employer and society better. We will continue to need the spirit and determination of these students more than ever.”
This year’s winners truly exemplify the magnitude of work Waterloo students can accomplish across the globe.
“The past few months have changed our community in unexpected ways, but what hasn’t changed is the perseverance and adaptive resilience of our co-op students,” Ross Johnston says, executive director of Co-operative Education at the University of Waterloo. “It’s wonderful that we can celebrate the accomplishments of this exceptional group of students who have made such a strong impact in the workplace.”
The following are the University of Waterloo’s 2019 Co-op Students of the Year:
Yasmeen Mihad Razvi – Health Studies (Faculty of Health)
Razvi served as a Clinical Research Assistant at Sunnybrook’s Odette Cancer Centre. During her time there, she initiated a study analyzing the accuracy of survival predictions for patients seen in the palliative clinic. The manuscripts were accepted into Supportive Care in Cancer and Annals of Palliative Medicine. Razvi also co-initiated a review of radiation doses to the heart and lung of approximately 5,000 patients seen at the Odette Cancer Center spanning from 2011 to 2018. In addition, she created a literature review on the lack of adherence of clinicians to treatment guidelines which were published in Supportive Care in Cancer and cited and shared by researchers around the world.
Taylor Legere – Peace and Conflict Studies (Faculty of Arts)
Legere served as an Operations Coordinator at the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation for the University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Environment. During her time there, she created a "Three Steps to Basement Flood Protection Infographic" which has been shared broadly across Canada. Legere also developed an app mock-up for her team that provided residents with a customized action list on how to reduce their flood risk. During her personal time, she promotes both co-operative education and her area of study to incoming students by participating in open houses and orientation.
Eric Jihoon Song – Biomedical Engineering (Faculty of Engineering)
Song served as a Software Developer at Maisha Meds. During his time there he worked on a core Android Application that allowed customers in Kenya to buy pharmaceuticals. Song also improved the old application by redesigning the basic data models within the app to target user complaints, help with future scalability and ensure full backward compatibility. For his capstone project, he is studying the effects of how the sub-Saharan African climate influences the effectiveness and quality of pharmaceutical drugs in East Africa — a notable problem for the public in this region.
David Pau – Planning (Faculty of Environment)
Pau served as a Student Planner for the Region of Waterloo’s Transportation & Environmental Services department, focused on development for Grand River Transit. During his time there, Pau helped successfully launch the largest transit infrastructure project in Waterloo Region’s history: the ION Light Rail Transit. During the launch process he identified and fixed an error, that previously inflated the number of bus riders by approximately 35 per cent, to increase the accuracy of bus rider data in an annual region-wide report. In support of co-op, he spoke to over 20 Canadian transportation professionals at the 2019 Unified Mobility Summit about his contributions to the GRT as a co-op student and the benefits of co-operative education as whole.
Keer Liu – Computer Science (Faculty of Mathematics)
Liu served as a Software Infrastructure Intern at Slack Technologies Inc. During her time there, she performed a data migration from Slack’s old database to a more reliable database which resulted in reduced costs and improved efficiency and quality. Liu also de-provisioned the old database which saved a large amount of server maintenance money and improved the database quality, saving engineers from operational overheads. In addition, she successfully organized the 2018 UW Engineering Hackathon, hosting more than 300 students and over 10 organizations at the event’s Career Fair, promoting student-employer connections.
Lydia Vermeer – Biochemistry (Faculty of Science)
Vermeer served as a Genetic Counsellor Assistant at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in the Cancer Genetics department. During her time there, Vermeer prepared a 40-page document along with numerous supporting materials for the development of a new format of genetic counselling and testing for breast-cancer that is physician-initiated. Vermeer also helped curate a database of clinic patients with mutations which involved comparing 4,000 mutations to online databases to ensure they were entered in standard notation. To ensure a smooth transition into the workplace for future successive Waterloo co-op students, she also rewrote the student manual for the position.
In addition to the students listed above, Emily Lam (Health), Jonathan Lee (Arts), Meggin Crisp (Engineering), Binoy Pattharwala (Environment), Spencer Whitehead (Mathematics) and Jonathan Hsu (Science) received honourable mentions for Waterloo’s awards.