Friday, June 18, 2021

    Brandon Sweet
    University Communications

    Waterloo celebrates its graduating students today and tomorrow

    The University mace.

    More than 6,880 members of Waterloo's latest cohort of graduates will be recognized today and tomorrow through a series of virtual celebrations as the University of Waterloo's 122nd convocation ceremonies take place.

    Though the ceremonies are virtual, they will generally conform to the familiar format of an in-person convocation celebration. At the ceremonies, Jean Becker, interim associate vice-president, human rights, equity & inclusion, will share an Indigenous greeting. Also providing remarks are Chancellor Dominic Barton, President Feridun Hamdullahpur, James Rush, vice-president, academic & provost, University Registrar Cathy Newell Kelly and the Faculty deans.

    Along with the ceremonies themselves will be virtual photo booths, receptions, dean's messages, reflections and other special recognition for graduands, their families and friends. Follow along on social media with the hashtag #UWaterlooGrad.

    These ceremonies will be the final convocation events presided over by Feridun Hamdullahpur as president and vice-chancellor, as his term of office ends on June 30.

    For more information visit the University's convocation website.

    Health, Environment and Mathematics ceremonies today

    Convocation gets started this afternoon with three ceremonies.

    Faculty of Health

    The Faculty of Health convocation ceremony takes place at 1:00 p.m. today. 457 undergraduate students, 75 master’s students, and 11 PhD candidates will be celebrated.

    The mace bearer will be Brian Laird, associate professor, School of Public Health Sciences; and associate dean, graduate studies. Rithvika Ramesh, Faculty of Health valedictorian, will address convocation.

    Sara Wyngaarden is being honoured with the Governor General's Academic Gold Medal, which is given for the highest standing in a Master's program.

    Tina Jiao will receive the Governor General's Academic Silver Medal for highest standing in an undergraduate degree program, as well as the Kinesiology Departmental Award for highest academic achievement.

    Maddy Ryken, who convocated in Fall 2020, receives the University of Waterloo Alumni Gold Medal for outstanding academic achievement as well as the Recreation and Leisure Studies Departmental Award for highest academic achievement.

    Amanda Rafka Raffoul, who convocated in Fall 2020, is the University Finalist for the Governor General's Gold Medal at the Doctoral level.

    Faculty of Environment

    The Faculty of Environment convocation ceremony takes place at 4:00 p.m. today. 533 undergraduate students, 70 master’s students, and 15 PhD candidates will be honoured.

    Bearing the mace will be Neil Craik, professor, School of Environment, Enterprise and Development. Valedictorian Lauren Adrianna Petropoulos will address Convocation.

    Dinesh Jaydeep Moro will receive the University of Waterloo President's Award of Excellence, awarded to students with the highest standing in an undergraduate degree program.

    Maggie Chang receives the University of Waterloo Alumni Gold Medal, which is awarded by the Office of Alumni Affairs in recognition of top graduating students for academic achievement.

    Tahnee Lisa Prior is the University Finalist for the Governor General's Gold Medal at the doctoral level, and Jiaxin Zhang is the University Finalist at the Master's level.

    Faculty of Mathematics

    The Faculty of Mathematics convocation ceremony takes place at 7:00 p.m. today. 1,298 undergraduate students, 182 master’s students, and 40 PhD candidates will cross the virtual stage.

    Bearing the mace is Anita T. Layton, Canada 150 Research Chair, Mathematical Biology and Medicine; Professor, Applied Mathematics, Computer Science, Pharmacy, Biology; and Associate Dean, Research and International. 

    Calvin Choi will receive a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa and will address convocation. 

    Valedictorian Mokai (Monica) Xu, will address convocation.

    Robert John Cummings will be given the Governor General's Academic Silver Medal, which is awarded to students with the highest standing in an undergraduate degree program.

    Spencer Nicholas Whitehead receives the University of Waterloo Alumni Gold Medal, and is also the recipient of the Jessie W.H. Zou Memorial Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research.

    Nashid Shahriar is University Finalist for the Governor General's Gold Medal at the Doctoral level, and Ishan Bansal is the University Finalist at the Master's level. Both Shahriar and Bansal graduated in Fall 2020. Nashid Shahriar also receives the Mathematics Doctoral Prize.

    Actuarial Science Awards for outstanding academic achievement go to Ryan Ira Goldford and Luwei Zhang.

    Guanzhong Chen receives the Sandford Fleming Foundation Medal for Academic Excellence, while Shane Raymond Hickman receives the award in the co-operative work term proficiency category.

    Arts, Science and Engineering ceremonies on Saturday

    Convocation continues on Saturday, June 19 with three ceremonies.

    Faculty of Arts

    The Faculty of Arts convocation ceremony takes place at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 19. 1,354 undergraduate students, 191 master’s students, and 23 PhD candidates will cross the virtual stage.

    Valedictorian Kyle Rowe will address convocation.

    Venus Ho receives the University of Waterloo President's Award of Excellence.

    Monica Elizabeth Grove will receive the University of Waterloo Alumni Gold Medal.

    Faculty of Science

    The Faculty of Science convocation ceremony takes place at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 19. 918 undergraduate students, 71 master’s students, and 34 PhD candidates will be honoured.

    Valedictorian Chinonso Ekeanyanwu will address convocation.

    Victoria Grace Wilkes will receive the University of Waterloo President's Award of Excellence.

    Max Chemtov receives the University of Waterloo Alumni Gold Medal.

    Faculty of Engineering

    The celebrations conclude with the Faculty of Engineering convocation ceremony, which will take place at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 19. 1,283 undergraduate students, 478 master’s students, and 81 PhD candidates will receive their degrees.

    Valedictoria Jonathan Miguel Logarta-Chin will address convocation.

    Yuanyang Qi receives the University of Waterloo Alumni Gold Medal.

    Natalie Angela Pundsack will receive the Governor General's Academic Silver Medal.

    Tejinder Singh receives the Governor General's Academic Gold Medal, which is awarded to the student with the highest standing in a doctoral program.

    Congratulations to the class of 2021

    Feridun Hamdullahpur applauds graduates on the convocation stage.

    By Feridun Hamdullahpur. This is an excerpt of the latest post on President Hamdullahpur's blog.

    The University of Waterloo is built on a legacy dedicated to creating positive impact. Over the past decade our institution has experienced an era of transformative entrepreneurship, expanded student development and support, and strengthened our global community. Thank you, graduates. You have helped propel Waterloo into new frontiers.

    Graduating marks a significant milestone in your life and in the history of our institution. While you look ahead to what’s next, I hope this moment also provides an opportunity for both celebration and reflection.

    As my term comes to a close, I am in a sense also graduating with you, and reflecting on my time at Waterloo—on the past decade during which I have been honoured to serve as president and vice-chancellor. I think not only about all that we have accomplished together as a university, but also about the many people I have had the privilege to work with and serve, who make up this great community we have.

    The degree you have earned is more than a piece of paper. It is a symbol of your hard work. It is recognition of the challenges you took on, the skills you developed, and the relationships you built along your journey to today.

    Our world needs your unmatched curiosity and drive now more than ever

    We are in the midst of great change as our world grapples with an unprecedented pandemic that will have repercussions for years to come. You, our new graduates, will face a number of unique challenges. You can rely on the perseverance and the experience you gained during your time at Waterloo to rise above what we will face. It is important to remember that while the challenges ahead are complex and innumerable, they are in fact opportunities to be seized.

    You are the problem-solvers and the innovators who go beyond expectations. Our world needs your unmatched curiosity and drive now more than ever—I encourage you to take what you have learned here to help shape our future for the better and redefine what is possible.

    Read the rest of the post on President Hamdullahpur's blog

    Prestigious Governor General's Gold Medal awarded to two Waterloo students

    Tejinder Singh and Sara Leanne Wyngaarden.

    By Melanie Scott.

    The Governor General's Gold Medal, one of the highest honours in academia, will be awarded to two exceptional University of Waterloo graduate students. Tejinder Singh, who graduated last fall from the Faculty of Engineering, will receive the award for highest standing in a doctoral program. Sara Leanne Wyngaarden, who is graduating this spring with an MSc in Health and Health Systems, will receive the award for highest standing in a master’s program. Awards like this allow our community to celebrate the impactful research and scholarly excellence of outstanding students.

    Tejinder Singh.Tejinder Singh’s PhD research has gained him visibility at both the national and international level. He has published more than 24 research papers in leading journals and received numerous awards, including the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship, Young Engineer Award by European Microwave Association and the President's Graduate Scholarship. Singh’s research mainly focuses on developing novel miniaturized on-chip wireless and microwave devices based on emerging phase-change materials for use in 5G and upcoming 6G wireless communication systems. Singh’s work has paved the way for these technologies in Canada, and allowed him to develop a new generation of devices that are smaller, lighter weight and have superior performance when it comes to power consumption. He has also won the national Brian L. Barge Microsystems Integration Award, and multiple "best paper" awards at international conferences. The potential applications for Singh’s devices include, sending and receiving large amounts of data, use in autonomous vehicles, biomedical applications, satellite communications for deep space research and more.

    Singh first became interested in computers when he was very young. He was only ten when he assembled his first computer.

    “Whatever I achieved during my PhD was a direct result of my curiosity and my passion for learning,” Singh says. “Since my research was in a field I enjoyed, it never felt it like a burden.”

    Singh also credits his success to support from his supervisor, Dr. Raafat Mansour, and his wife and fellow researcher, Navjot Khaira. He expresses great appreciation for his parents and siblings who have always supported his dreams of becoming a scientist. “During my PhD studies, I was working to build something useful with real world technological applications, not simply working to complete degree requirements. A lot of what I did was for my own curiosity and satisfaction.”

    Singh is currently working as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the world-renowned NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), California Institute of Technology (Caltech), in the US. He is contributing his expertise in phase-change technology to develop cutting edge devices that carry the potential to be included in the next space exploration rovers and for deep space research. 

    Sara Leanne WyngaardenAfter completing her undergraduate degree, Sara Leanne Wyngaarden worked for a small non-government organization in Chhattisgarh, India where she learned that agricultural development is about much more than crop productivity. She realized that many barriers to sustainable rural development are structural or systemic and can be viewed through the lens of health and well-being.

    These realizations set the foundation for her master’s research in Public Health and Health Systems at Waterloo where, under the supervision of Dr. Warren Dodd, she investigated livelihood opportunities for youth in remote areas of Honduras. While social, economic, political and environmental instability in Central America continues to drive outmigration, Wyngaarden’s research examined immobility decisions among rural youth — whether they aspire to stay in rural areas of Honduras, what shapes those aspirations and what enables them to stay. Additionally, her research evaluated how one Honduran non-governmental organization, the Foundation for Participatory Research with Honduran Farmers (FIPAH), has built capacity and confidence among youth in Honduras to pursue rural livelihoods.

    “What I appreciate most about FIPAH’s youth-targeted work is their dedication to expanding the quality and diversity of opportunities available so that rural youth can pursue livelihoods that they value,” says Wyngaarden. “Their goal is to give youth the freedom to choose rural livelihoods, should they so desire, rather than feeling forced to migrate from rural areas to establish viable livelihoods.”

    Her research counters prevailing understandings of how rural youth in Honduras navigate their livelihood trajectories, and she demonstrates how local organizations can provide critical supports and empowerment through this process. Wyngaarden’s findings help strengthen the programming offered by FIPAH, as they continue to support the well-being of youth living in remote areas of Honduras.

    For the next three years, Wyngaarden will be working as the Program Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Guatemala and El Salvador. She believes the role provides an incredible opportunity to apply and continue expanding upon the knowledge and skills she gained through her studies at Waterloo.

    Vendredi's valedictions

    "The 21 June 2021 Senate meeting will be held via Microsoft Teams videoconference, says a note from the Secretariat. "Guests are welcome to join the open session of the meeting similar to a normal "in-person" Senate meeting. If you would like to attend the meeting as a guest observer, please contact Emily Schroeder to request to join the meeting. All requests must be received by noon Monday 21 June 2021. The agenda is posted on the Senate webpage."

    Equity survey emails continue to be distributed to the University community today. Keep an eye out for the survey invitation in your email inbox. If you have questions about the equity survey, visit the Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion website.

    Beyond the Bulletin episode 92

    Beyond the Bulletin Podcast logo featuring two vintage microphones.

    The latest episode of the Beyond the Bulletin Podcast is now live. Interview guest Amir Al-Azraki, the coordinator of Studies in Islamic and Arab cultures and professor of Arabic language, literature and culture at Renison University College, discusses Islamophobia after a motorist hit and killed several members of a Muslim family. Waterloo jumps 17 spots overall in the QS World University Rankings, an annual publication that ranks more than 1,300 institutions worldwide. Six convocation ceremonies will take place online over two days this week. And Waterloo marks National Indigenous Peoples Day.

    Link of the day

    Autistic Pride Day

    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.

    Instructors can visit the Keep Learning website to get support on adapting their teaching and learning plans for an online environment.

    Course templates are available within your course in LEARN to help you build and edit your content and assignment pages quickly.

    The following workshops, webinars, and events are offered by the KL team (CTE, CEL, ITMS, LIB):

    Employees can access resources to help them work remotely, including managing University records and privacy of personal information. Here are some tips for staying healthy while working from home.

    Stay informed about COVID cases on campus by consulting the COVID case tracker.

    The Writing and Communication Centre has virtual services and programs to help undergrads, grad students, postdocs and faculty members with academic writing.

    Co-op students can get help finding a job and find supports to successfully work remotely, develop new skills, access wellness and career information, and contact a co-op or career advisor.

    The Centre for Career Action assists undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, staff, faculty, and alumni through navigating career services that are right for them. You can attend a one-on-one appointment or same day drop-in session at the CCA for assistance with cover letter writing, career planning and much more. You can also book an appointment online or visit our Live Chat to connect with our Client Support Team. The CCA is here to help you.

    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. You can also contact the University's Centre for Mental Health Research and TreatmentGood2Talk is a post-secondary student helpline available to all students.

    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.

    The Indigenous Initiatives Office is a central hub that provides guidance, support, and resources to all Indigenous and non-Indigenous campus community members and oversees the university Indigenization strategy.

    The Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre, based at St. Paul’s University College, provides support and resources for Indigenous students, and educational outreach programs for the broader community, including lectures, and events.

    WUSA supports for students:

    Peer support  - MATES, Glow Centre, RAISE, Women’s Centre - Visit to book an appointment

    Bike Centre – Open via Appointments and Rentals

    Campus Response Team, ICSN, Off Campus Community and Co-op Connection all available online. Check for more details.

    Food Support Service food hampers are currently available from the Turnkey Desk on weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the Student Life Centre. If you have any questions please email us at

    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 caps@wusa.caMore information is available.

    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 1-833-628-5589.

    When and Where (but mostly when)

    Healthy Warriors at Home (Online Fitness)

    Fitness Classes on Warrior Field. Starting June 14. Power Yoga, HIIT and Zumba. Only $4/class. Advanced registration required.

    Warriors vs. Laurier Blood Donation Battle. Join your fellow Warriors, donate blood and help us win the Blood Battle against Laurier for a second year in a row. Set up a profile or add the PFL code: UNIV960995 to your account if you have a account already. Questions? Contact

    Drop-in to Warrior Virtual Study Halls on Wednesdays from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Come together in this virtual space to set goals and work independently or in groups each week.

    Renison English Language Institute continues to offer virtual events and workshops to help students practice their English language skills.

    Bike Month, Tuesday, June 1 to Wednesday, June 30.

    IT Seminar: Science Computing Update, Friday, June 18, 9:00 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. Join online.

    Spring Convocation virtual ceremonies, Friday, June 18 and Saturday, June 19.

    Lunchtime Performance: Deantha Edmunds, Canada's First and Only Inuk Professional Classical Singer, Monday, June 21, 12 noon.

    Dissertation Boot Camp Week, Monday, June 21 to Thursday, June 24.

    English Conversation Circles, Monday, June 21, 8:00 a.m.

    University Senate Meeting, Monday, June 21, 3:30 p.m.

    Virtual Writing Café, Tuesday, June 22, 9:00 a.m.

    NEW - Concept: Commercializing your craft, Tuesday, June 22, 5:30 p.m.

    English Conversation Circles, Tuesday, June 22, 4:00 p.m.

    Social Justice Wednesdays - Virtual Talk with Dr. Kim Hong Nguyen, “Mean Girl Feminism: White Feminist Outrage and Salvation”, Wednesday, June 23, 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

    Concept Working Session: Lean Business Model, Wednesday, June 23, 5:30 p.m., virtual event.

    International education consultation meeting hosted by Waterloo International, Monday, June 28, 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

    The Honourable Murray Sinclair - National Indigenous History Month Keynote, Tuesday, June 29, 1:00 p.m.

    Concept Intro Session: Pitch to Win, Tuesday, June 29, 5:30 p.m., virtual event.

    Canada Day holiday, most University operations closed, Thursday, July 1.

    University holiday, most operations closed, Friday, July 2.

    WatITis proposal submission deadline, Thursday, July 8.