Wednesday, June 17, 2020

    Brandon Sweet
    University Communications

    Convocation continues today with Arts

    Convocation mace banner.

    The University of Waterloo's virtual Convocation celebrations continue this week with the Faculty of Arts taking centre stage. Today, more than 1,400 graduands will be recognized for their undergraduate and graduate degrees, diplomas, and certificates.

    Each graduand will receive an email from President Feridun Hamdullahpur with a personalized video featuring senior University leaders that marks this exceptional moment in the lives of each graduating student and their families. Students having difficulty finding the email this week should check out the University's student email migration website for more information, as student emails are switching from to addresses.

    Dean of Arts Sheila Ager recorded a message for Arts students, a condensed version of which is available as follows:

    Family and friends of graduates, along with the entire UWaterloo community, are being asked to share their congratulatory messages online with stories, videos and social posts. 

    And a few Waterloo employees have taken a stroll down memory lane to recall their own Convocation experiences from years past:

    MIchael Redfearn with his diploma in 1982.

    "From the archives," writes Michael Redfearn, who received a Bachelor of Arts from Waterloo in 1982.

    Rita Cherkewsi gets her diploma in 1990.

    "Here is a photo of when I received my MA in French Studies from Waterloo in 1990," writes Rita Cherkewski, graduate awards officer in Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA).

    Check out the University's Convocation website for more information and resources you can use to celebrate Waterloo's graduating students this week.

    Celebrating exceptional student teachers

    The Amit and Meena Chakma Awards for Exceptional Teaching by a Student for 2020 will be presented to four student teachers this year. Jeff Casello, associate vice-president, graduate studies and postdoctoral affairs, and chair of the selection committee provided the report to the University's Senate on Monday this week. The winners are:

    Dania Abuleil

    Dania AbuleilDania Abuleil, a PhD candidate in the School of Optometry and Vision Science, is recognized by students, peers, and faculty members for her teaching strategies, approachability, and dedication. One student describes Abuleil’s teaching as exceptional because, “not only does she help you thoroughly understand the material but she makes you proficient with that knowledge, fosters and develops your self-confidence, and provides you with strategies to make you more self-sufficient in the future.” Abuleil’s passion for teaching went beyond the classroom as she continually looked for new ways to improve as an instructor, including earning a Fundamentals of University Teaching certificate. She has developed a variety of teaching methods to explain difficult concepts and cater to her students’ learning needs, but what truly make’s Abuleil’s teaching exceptional is her friendly and approachable personality. One faculty member stated that, “[her] patience with students and kind character helps her develop strong connections with her students, which ultimately makes them feel valued.” Abuleil also ensures that her fellow Teaching Assistants take pride in their abilities to teach students, serving as the President of Graduates in Vision Science and establishing a new method for receiving instructional feedback. Abuleil has been a teaching assistant for OPTOM 104, OPTOM 114, OPTOM 124, and OPTOM 272. She has also been a lecturer for OPTOM 219.

    Amy Chow

    Amy Chow.Amy Chow, a PhD candidate in the School of Optometry and Vision Science, is recognized by students, peers, and faculty members for her enthusiasm towards teaching and dedication to the scientific community. One student described Chow as “born to teach.” Other students noted that her teaching “consistently went above and beyond” and that she is a “phenomenal communicator” who “has an invaluable talent for explaining complex concepts in the most clear and concise way.” Chow does not just teach concepts to her classes; instead, she guides learners using different teaching methods until the concepts resonate with them, often using real-life and personal examples to support her teaching and provide better understandings of the topic. Chow’s dedication to Science and Optometry goes further than the classroom, volunteering to be a clinical supervisor at mock eye exams and sharing her knowledge with learners at the annual Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity workshop. Chow engages with students outside of the classroom with her fun, supportive, and genuine personality to build a close community within the University of Waterloo. Chow has been a teaching assistant for OPTOM 219, OPTOM 245, OPTOM 262, OPTOM 272, and OPTOM 375.

    Dylon McChesney

    Dylon McChesneyDylon McChesney, a PhD candidate in Philosophy, is recognized by students, peers, and faculty members for his approachability, commitment to students’ well-being, and engaging teaching methods. His students agree that “not only [was he] an excellent professor but also an outstanding peer and ally.” McChesney’s dedication for teaching is evident in the way he regularly looks to engage the students beyond class material, with an unspoken level of mutual respect between instructor and learners. McChesney’s “passion, humour, and confidence” all helped make the class more interactive, with a comforting, supportive atmosphere. McChesney works to make sure his students succeed by centering his teaching approaches around appropriate course designs to enable and encourage learners to be more active and critical in their thinking. Beyond his teaching abilities, McChesney demonstrates commitment to student success through his advocacy for mental health: as one nominator wrote, he “often partook in honest and open conversations about his class’ wellbeing – both academic and mental.” His incredible communication skills, innovation in teaching, rapport with and advocacy for students make his teaching truly exceptional. McChesney has been an instructor for ARBUS 202/PHIL 215, PHIL 110B, PHIL 256, and PHIL 101.

    Maša Torbica

    Maša TorbicaMaša Torbica, a PhD candidate in English Language and Literature, is recognized by students, peers, and faculty members for her ability to connect with students and her dedication to teaching and learning. A language barrier between instructor and student can be difficult to overcome. Torbica not only works to overcome this barrier but also has a deeper understanding of its effects, as English was not her first language as a student. She puts herself in the shoes of her students and as one-student states, she knew “that most of the class were international students whom did not speak English well, she realized that they were misunderstanding [class content] … and sought after ways to help those students understand the content better.” Torbica also supports student learning by making lessons more engaging through fun and personal activities that promote participation, and by assigning reflection journals to give students the opportunity to freely express their thoughts and opinions about the course. As another student describes, these teaching methods “not only made the lessons more memorable but made them more meaningful as well, helping to better connect to course content.” The classroom environment she creates encourages creative thinking, discussions, and influences her students in ways that helps their professional development. Torbica truly embodies the rigor, passion, and dedication of graduate teaching at Waterloo. Torbica has been a teaching assistant for ENGL 119, and ENGL 200A. She has also been an instructor for ENGL 193, ENGL 109, ENGL 315, and a guest lecturer for ENGL 318.

    Seeing the potential for change

    Kiera McMaster.

    This article was originally published on Waterloo Stories.

    She is the type of student who is not easily forgotten, wrote her nominator. The positive impact Kiera McMaster leaves on her peers and the wider community was recently recognized when she won the Faculty of Arts Award for Excellence in Service.

    McMaster is one of a few undergraduate students who won the Arts Award, an annual initiative to recognize excellence in faculty, staff and students. Graduating this week with a Bachelor of Global Business and Digital Arts (GBDA), based at the Stratford School, she stands out as engaged and community-minded; she combines her skills and knowledge with a strong instinct to observe her social environment, see where help is needed and do something about it.

    This is especially evident in the social enterprise McMaster initiated during her third year. The Resource Bin program assists the GBDA student community with everyday essentials such as food and hygiene products that some cannot easily afford. “Students in Waterloo have access to the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA) food bank,” she says, “but in Stratford, we were missing an equivalent.”

    As a long-standing advocate for health and well-being among her peers, McMaster noticed that some classmates were not eating well.

    “Stratford can be an expensive place to live, as many of the stores are priced with the Festival tourists in mind, so there can be barriers to accessing affordable food,” she says.

    Through her collaborative efforts with WUSA and community supporters, she raised funds and collected items that the School’s staff and faculty, along with local small business owners, could easily donate. With a start-up donation of $200, she supplied dry food items, toilet paper, personal hygiene items, laundry soap, sanitary products and other essential household items to fill two bins. She placed the Resource Bins in discrete locations at the School, each with a sign that said: “Take what you need/leave what you can.”

    Discretion was important, she realized.

    Read the rest of the article on Waterloo Stories.

    Your virtual town hall questions, answered

    President Feridun Hamdullahpur speaks before a webcam during the President's Virtual Town Hall Meeting.

    Answers to the questions submitted for consideration at the President's Virtual Town Hall Meeting held on May 20 have now been posted online.

    The questions are searchable and broken down into categories.

    The Town Hall brought more than 1,600 students, faculty, staff and more members of the community together for a brief presentation and Q&A session addressing topics ranging from what Fall Term will look like to maintaining the quality of the learning experience, co-op placements and the financial state of the University.

    The video of the virtual event is also available online:

    Wednesday's notes

    Here this week's activities at the Centre for Career Action:

    • What’s coming up at CCA: 
    • Centre for Career Action virtual drop-in advising hours for June: 
      • Online résumé, cover letter and interview support, Career consults, and Work search drop-ins running 12:00 to 1:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Students can book virtual drop-ins on WaterlooWorks

    International News, located in the Student Life Centre, will reopen today from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. International News will be open on weekdays.   

    Link of the day

    World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

    When and Where to get support

    Students can visit the Student Success Office online for supports including academic development, international student resources, leadership development, exchange and study abroad, and opportunities to get involved.

    Award from GSEF-GSA-GSPA for thesis-based master’s and PhD students who have lost funding because of COVID-19.

    Instructors can visit the Keep Learning website to get support on adapting their teaching and learning plans for an online environment. The following workshops are current offerings from the KL team (CTE, CEL, ITMS, LIB):

    Teaching Online: Basic Skills for TAs, June 1 to 30.

    Teaching Online: Advanced Skills for TAs, June 1 to 30.  

    Google Translate – a tool for cheating or a tool for learning? Wednesday, June 17, 2:00 p.m.

    Creating Accessible Presentations, Thursday, June 18, 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. 

    Introduction to OER Textbooks, Wednesday, June 24, 2:00 to 2:30 p.m.

    Introduction to OER Activities, Exercises, and Student Work Examples, Thursday, June 25, 10:30 to 11:00 a.m. 

    Employees can access resources to help them work remotely, including managing University records and privacy of personal information

    Interested in learning more about engaging your students in an online course? The Centre for Extended Learning has created a new resource for you called "Fostering Engagement: Facilitating Online Courses in Higher Education"

    This Open Educational Resource was designed for post-secondary instructors and teaching assistants who would like to better understand the critical role of facilitation in online course delivery, and build practical skills and strategies that are relevant, effective, and authentic.

    Here are some tips for staying healthy while working from home.

    The Writing and Communication Centre has gone virtual. We have many online services to help you meet your goals, including: Virtual Pre-booked and Drop-in appointments, Online workshopsVirtual Grad and Faculty Writing CafésInstagram Live Q&A sessionsLive PJ-Friendly Write-insOnline learning resources, and Online programming for Master’s and PhD students. Whatever you’re working on, we’re here to help! Visit our website for more information.

    We understand that these circumstances can be troubling, and you may need to speak with someone for emotional support. Good2Talk is a post-secondary student helpline based in Ontario, Canada that is available to all students.

    If you feel overwhelmed or anxious and need to talk to somebody, please contact the University’s Campus Wellness services, either Health Services or  Counselling Services.

    The Library has published a resource guide on how to avoid information overload.

    The Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo (FAUW) continues to advocate for its members. Check out the FAUW blog for more information.

    The University of Waterloo Staff Association (UWSA) continues to advocate for its members. Check out the UWSA blog for more information.

    WUSA supports for students:

    Food Support Service food hampers are currently available from the Turnkey Desk on weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Student Life Centre. If you have any questions please email us at

    MATES – Providing general online Peer Support via Skype to undergraduate students. To set up an appointment, please go to:

    Glow Centre - Providing online Peer Support for the LGBTQ2+ community via Skype to Undergraduate students. To set up an appointment, please go to:

    The Women’s Centre – Providing online Peer Support via Skype to undergraduate students. To set up an appointment, please go to:

    RAISE – Providing online Peer Support via Google to undergraduate students. To set up an appointment, please go to:

    The Bike Centre – Now open by appointment for your bicycle repair and rental needs in the Student Life Centre. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please go to:

    Centre for Academic Policy Support - CAPS is here to assist Waterloo undergraduates throughout their experience in navigating academic policy in the instances of filing petitions, grievances and appeals. Please contact them at . More information at

    WUSA Commissioners who can help in a variety of areas that students may be experiencing during this time:

    WUSA Student Legal Protection Program - Seeking legal counsel can be intimidating, especially if it’s your first time facing a legal issue. The legal assistance helpline provides quick access to legal advice in any area of law, including criminal. Just call 1-833-202-4571

    Empower Me is a confidential mental health and wellness service that connects students with qualified counsellors 24/7. They can be reached at 1-844-741-6389.

    When and Where (but mostly when)

    Warriors Coaching Clinics. Every Wednesday from June 3 to July 15. Free online sessions highlighting a wide range of topics featuring Warriors Coaches and staff. Register in advance for the zoom link.

    Portfolio & Project Management Community of Practice (PPM CoP) session, "Estimating in Projects" Wednesday, June 17, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Register for this event

    The Moving careers forward: Community of Practice for women presents: Achieve your goals with 1% effort, Wednesday, June 17, 12:00 p.m. Register in WaterlooWorks.

    Intro Session: Keep Calm and Carry On, Wednesday, June 17, 6:30 p.m.

    The Post-COVID-19 Reboot, “Rebooting with Research: Viral detection and mitigation” (panel session 5 of 6) Thursday, June 18, 1:00 p.m.

    International Student Online Discussion, Thursday, June 18, 9:00 to 10:00 a.m.

    Entrepreneurship@Environment presents Social Enteprise 101Friday, June, 19, 1:00 to 2:30 p.m.

    Black Lives Matter Here, Friday, June 19, 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

    More Feet on the Ground Mental Health Training for Faculty and Staff, Monday, June 22, 1:30 p.m., Microsoft Teams – Register on  GoSignMeUp.

    International Live Chat #1 – Connecting to Campus, Tuesday, June 23, 9:00 to 10:00 a.m.

    Wellness Collaborative, Tuesday, June 23, 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

    Entrepreneurship@Environment presents Impact Investing 101Tuesday, June 23, 12:00 to 1:30 p.m.

    Women in Computer Science presents "Unconscious Bias: How to Recognize and Interrupt It," Tuesday, June 23, 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Registration required.

    Intro Session: Pitch to Win, Wednesday, June 24.

    The Post-COVID-19 Reboot, “Rebooting with Research: Our virtual future” (panel session 6 of 6) Thursday, June 25, 1:00 p.m.

    Science Innovation Hub Guest Lecture: Science Around the World with Senjuti Saha, Friday, June 26, 10:00 a.m.

    Concept $5K Applications Close, Sunday, June 28.

    Graduate literature reviews A: Organizing research, Monday, June 29, 10:00 a.m. Live Q & A on LEARN.

    International Live Chat #2 – Adjusting to a New Culture, Tuesday, June 30, 9:00 to 10:00 a.m.

    Grammar studio I: The most common grammar trouble spots, Thursday, July 2, 2:00 p.m. Live Q & A on LEARN.

    NEW - University of Waterloo internal communications survey deadline, Friday, July 3.

    Design & deliver I: Structure and deliveryMonday, July 6, 10:00 am, Live Q & A on LEARN.

    International Live Chat #3 – Thriving in First Year, Tuesday, July 7, 9:00 to 10:00 a.m.

    Positions available

    On this week's list from the human resources department, viewable on the UWaterloo Talent Acquisition System (iCIMS):

    • Job ID# 2020-5427 - Manager, Academic Programs – WatPD, USG 11
    • Job ID# 2020-5430 - Senior Manager, Curriculum Development – WatPD, USG 11