Convocation continues today with Arts
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 edu.uwaterloo.ca to uwaterloo.ca 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:
"From the archives," writes Michael Redfearn, who received a Bachelor of Arts from Waterloo in 1982.
"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, 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, 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, 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, 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
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.
Your virtual town hall questions, answered
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:
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.