Staying Connected to Community Throughout Co-op
Affiliating with the University of Waterloo makes residence at Conrad Grebel University College operate slightly different. With UWaterloo’s Co-operative Education program, the number of returning students often fluctuates based on whether they are on a study term or a work term. Grebel offers flexible housing contracts so that students can stay connected and have confidence that they will be welcomed back for another term.
During the winter 2023 work term, Isobel Flindall was a Teaching Assistant for the Centre for Work-Integrated Learning at UWaterloo. “One of my draws to finding a co-op job in Waterloo was that I would be able to associate with Grebel and keep up my involvement,” they said. Iso is an off-campus associate, which gives them access to Grebel facilities such as the gym and games room, resources such as Student Services, and Grebel activities such as Community Supper. Iso took their involvement one step further by taking on a leadership role in Grebel’s Student Council as the Associate Representative. “I love having a home base within the UWaterloo campus because it reminds me of the small town in which I grew up,” said Iso. “Being able to come home to Grebel and know everyone, recognize spaces, and greet people in the hallway by name is a really nice thing to have.”
Staying connected to the Grebel community does not mean having to live in the Waterloo Region or formally associating. Josiah Plett was a programmer in Ottawa for his winter work term. Even though he was in a different city, Josiah stayed connected with Grebel by scheduling weekly calls to connect with friends from Grebel virtually. Maintaining his connection with Grebel is meaningful to Josiah because of the supportive and interactive community he found throughout the three terms he spent in residence. “I’ve had late-night conversations with people in every area of Grebel; there are memories in every corner. There’s not a lot of places out there where you could chat with people forever — that’s community,” he said. “Most of my friends are from Grebel. Even connecting in-person with Grebelites who were with me in Ottawa made me feel connected to Grebel in spirit,” he added.
During study and work terms, students can choose to be part of Grebel in a variety of ways that fit their lifestyle, such as becoming a resident, off-campus associate, or apartment dweller. Tom Iagovet has tried it all, but being a resident has been his favourite by far. During his last work term, he was an Instructional Support Assistant with the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science. Located in Waterloo, Tom chose to live in residence at Grebel — a place that has played a major role in his life personally and academically. “Ever since I came to Grebel, I started noticing the ways through which its community shapes my personality. I’m very thankful to Grebel for giving me truly invaluable perspectives on who I am as a person and the world around me,” said Tom. “In hindsight, my life would’ve been totally different if it weren’t for the support of this community.”
Tom has been involved with Grebel in countless ways, and living in residence makes it even more possible to do so. He has been captain of intramurals, he has organized board game nights, attended town halls, been a Grebel tour guide, and he embraces Grebel life in every way. “I’ve been away from Grebel for one of my co-op terms, and it made me appreciate Grebel even more,” said Tom. “Being so close to this community truly makes a big difference.”
By Farah Jurdi