Environment Peer Mentor program

Two students laughing and walking outside Envrionment building

Welcoming new students to the Environment community

During the first six weeks in fall term, all first-year undergraduate students are enrolled in the Environment Peer Mentor program for support as they transition to university life. 

Students supporting students

First-year Environment students are provided an upper-year peer mentor to help them transition to University life. Peer mentors are a special kind of Environment student. They are equipped with knowledge and experience and can help new students with: 

  • Building lasting relationships with peers and upper year students in the faculty
  • Managing workload and maintaining well being
  • Learning campus and faculty resources, services, and supports
  • Joining campus-wide clubs, advocacy groups and athletic teams

Program highlights

In-person sessions

First-year students are invited to attend weekly in-person sessions with other first-year students and their peer mentor to engage in fun activities as a group. At the weekly in-person sessions, first-year students can expect to:

  • gather important academic information relevant to the week,
  • meet peers and get to know their community,
  • explore campus,
  • learn the tricks to navigating university life and academics,
  • have their questions answered by an upper-year student, and more.


Peer mentors send weekly newsletters to their group of first-year students. Newsletters are carefully crafted to address the common questions and concerns students have at each stage of their six week transition, covering topics like:

  • Important campus resources
  • Planning future terms
  • Finding your community
  • Mental health and wellbeing
  • Preparing for midterms
  • Overcoming obstacles

First-year students are always encouraged to hang on to their newsletters as a resource throughout university.

Online communities

Online communities are another way for peer mentors to support our new students. First-year students are invited to chat, ask questions, and connect with their peer mentor and other first-year students through their Microsoft Teams online groups.

Check your emails in September for an invite to your peer mentor Teams' channel!

Meet your 2023 peer mentors

Shrinidhi Elangovanneela

Shrinidhi Elangovanneela

Don't take first year too seriously and learn to have a good work-life balance! School is important but you only have a few years at Waterloo and you should make the most out of your time here. Join clubs, say yes to any opportunities presented to you, and talk to new people!  - Shrinidhi Elangovanneela, 2A Planning

Alex Ferguson

Alex Ferguson

Saplings don’t become trees overnight and you won’t adapt overnight either. Coming to university is a change for many reasons, whether you are an international student adapting to a new country, workload, or friendships. There are so many things to manage and learn, and no one expects you to get it perfect; as long as you are doing your best, you are doing great, and if you need help, we are here to help you. - Alex Ferguson, 4A Planning

Angela Ljepava


There were still Covid measures around in my first year, so I completed my entire first year online overseas! Since I was not at school, one of my core memories would be from my second year, aka first year on campus. I was a part of Fashion For Change, a school club that raises money for charity through a vast fashion show in the Winter term. I participated as a choreographer and assistant artistic director and made some unforgettable memories. Rehearsing with everyone until late into the night, going through the chaos of practices and show day, and going for bubble tea runs after, all contributed to this positive experience. This helped me get out of my comfort zone, try something new, meet remarkable people, and adapt to an unfamiliar environment known as university life! These collective memories blended into one immense core memory from my first time on campus! - Angela Ljepava, 3A Environment, Resources and Sustainability

Farah El-Shayeb

Farah El-Shayeb

Going to meet the FIZAM and other geography students and professors was definitely a core memory from first year. Met some of my closest friends at that event and made some really good connections with professors! I want to support students through their academic journey, fostering a sense of camaraderie and shared growth. I hope to share and pass on advice I wish I had known when I was in my first year. For example, how to connect with professors, how to choose specializations or minors, job hunting tips….etc! It only took one open house visit and a chat with an upper-year student for me to decide on the Environment at Waterloo. I came to that open house confused about my options. I went to one of the booths and started chatting with one of the students. Right away I knew I wanted to come to Waterloo. Her honesty and enthusiasm about the university and program made an impact on my decision! - Farah El-Shayeb, 4A Geography and Environmental Management

Gia Liu

Gia Liu

My core memory from my first year revolves around the final lecture of ENVS 278, a statistics course. My friends and I stayed late after the 5:20 lecture to chat with a few other classmates. We talked about courses we wanted to take, funny stories from Mapping courses, and professors we had encountered. I didn’t get home until 1 am that day! I chose to become an ambassador because I greatly benefited from this program last year. My mentor informed me about the various field courses that the program offers, as well as her own experience exploring interests in the broad field of sustainability. Her insights were helpful and reassuring. As a first-year student, I was both aware of and overwhelmed by the potential and flexibility of our program. After attending the mentor sessions, I gained a clear vision of what lies ahead in the next few years. - Gia Liu, 2A Environment, Resources and Sustainability 

Nidhi Mistry

Nidhi Mistry

For the first few weeks, I remember how lost I was to get from one side of campus to the other. I took the ring road path from UWP to get to EV3 and it took me 20-30 minutes! Eventually, I found the shortcuts through campus and learned what paths were more convenient. This made me realize that initially, things seem really far when everything is new. However, if you are willing to keep your efforts going, you will find your way and things will definitely get easier. Plus, there are always so many friendly people around campus! - Nidhi Mistry, 2A Planning

Harry Cheung


If I could share one piece of advice, it would be to put yourself out there and get to know your peers! The Faculty of Environment is a tight-knit community tied together by passionate staff and students. Everyone from the upper-year mentors to the professors, and the Environment Student Society are super supportive and always willing to lend a hand and dedicate their time to important causes. As someone who is super involved, I’ve made many friends and amazing memories during my undergraduate experience. There are countless opportunities both in the faculty and on campus that can help connect you with other folks with similar interests! - Harry Cheung, 3B Geomatics

Mary Samson

Mary Samson

During my time as a student at the University of Waterloo, fortunately, I had the opportunity to gain work experience by working with fellow students on campus. From addressing concerns pertaining to writing to helping students re-evaluate their note-taking strategies, I decided that becoming a Peer Mentor would be another great way of understanding the specific needs of new undergraduate students! I look forward to also providing you with personal tips and strategies that helped me get through my 1st year and beyond! - Mary Samson, 3A Environment, Resources, and Sustainability

Hannah Brunelle

Hannah Brunelle

My advice for first-year students is to get to know everyone! I have found that everyone in the environment faculty is open and willing to get to know new people, and in the first year, it is super easy to build strong bonds that can support you throughout the rest of the university. Don’t hesitate to join clubs or form study groups; they are great ways to get to know people! - Hannah Brunelle, 3A Environment, Resources and Sustainability

Ben DePetris

Ben DePetris

I became a peer mentor because I want to help first years feel comfortable and make connections early so they can live their Environment Faculty lives to the fullest. Ben DePetris, 3B Geography and Environmental Management

Timurul Hoque Kazi

Timrul Hoque Kazi

While I’ve made too many to count, all of my core memories have been with my dance and martial arts communities. If I had to pick one, it would have to be the Kendo End-of-Term tournament and festivities - it’s hard to beat that level of comradeship and friendship. - Timurul Hoque Kazi, 3A Planning

Mariam Dhorat

Mariam Dhorat

A core memory for me was going to orientation! I got to do so many things meet so many new people and get to know campus more. We went to Waterloo Park, we ate some great food, and we got some UWaterloo swag. I got to figure out where EV1 green was, where ML green was, how to walk from Waterloo Park to campus and even got to see the orientation leaders perform a great dance. I had my first burrito and burrito bowl during orientation and got my first try at Four All Ice Cream (located in Uptown Waterloo). Getting to Orientation was my first time using the GRT alone as well. So, it was a bunch of small core memories packed into one big core memory.  - Mariam Dhorat, 2A Environment and Business

Russell Kho

Photo of Russell Kho

My first year as a UW student was filled with many experiences that I never would've expected to have ever been a part of: I experienced snow for the first time, became part of student council, went cliff diving, and even tried ballroom dancing! My advice would be for new students to try stepping out of their comfort zones in their first year, as UW and the ENV faculty have so many opportunities that you wouldn't even think of before coming here. - Russell Kho, 2A Planning

Become a peer mentor

Are you knowledgeable about campus resources and the Faculty of Environment? Do you wish to pass on your knowledge and experience on to others? 

The application to become a peer mentor opens every spring term. To learn more about what we are looking for in a peer mentor, check out the job description on the Environment Peer Mentor Application Form.

We hope to see you apply in the spring!


I became a peer mentor because I want help first years feel comfortable and make connections early, so they can live their Environment lives to the fullest. 

Ben DePetris, Geography and Environmental Management Student