Faculty of Health celebrates 578 graduating students at spring convocation

Tuesday, June 11, 2024
Convocation stage

This spring marks the 128th convocation at the University of Waterloo, and with 490 undergraduate, 72 master's and 16 PhD candidates crossing the stage at the Faculty of Health ceremony, there is so much to reflect on and look forward to. 

We celebrate not only the achievements of our graduates, but many other highlights, awards and honours, including: 

Rick Hansen holding his honorary doctorate degree with Chancellor Dominic Barton

Rick Hansen, Paralympic athlete and founder of the Rick Hansen Foundation, received an Honorary Doctorate from the Faculty of Health for his dedication towards removing barriers and fighting for accessibility as a human right. He is a three-time world champion, nine-time Pan Am gold medalist and a six-time Paralympic medalist, inspiring many to strive towards their full potential. 

"We are all connected,” Hansen said. “Look at us here all together unified by common interests, shared values, celebrating a milestone moment of success on our personal journeys to set goals, chase dreams, to find purpose and meaning and to pay it forward.” 

Waterloo retirees Margaret Burnett and Tina Roberts are recognized as honorary members of the University of Waterloo, a prestigious award to recognize their outstanding service to the University. Burnett joined the Faculty of Health in 1975 as a Kinesiology co-op student and went on to work for the department for 4o years. Roberts began her career in the Faculty of Health in 1981 and transformed the areas of recruitment, student services, alumni relations and advancement with a research-based approach. 

The Faculty also recognized Drs. Rhona Hanning and Ron McCarville as Distinguished Professors Emeriti who have both had a significant impact in research and academia during their time at the University. Hanning, who taught in the School of Public Health Sciences, is best known for her pioneering work and significant impact in community-based participatory food and nutrition research with Indigenous communities. McCarville, who taught in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies, has contributed greatly as a leading scholar in leisure marketing and as the field’s expert on leisure service pricing. 

Claudia Heeney (Kinesiology and Health Sciences) received the President’s Award of Excellence, which recognizes the top graduating student in the Faculty of Health, based on highest GPA in undergraduate studies. She also therefore receives the Highest Academic Achievement Award for her department. Kaitlin Muzio (Public Health Sciences) and Nathan Boctor (Recreation and Leisure Studies) have received the Highest Academic Achievement Awards for their respective departments. 

Katie Szajbely

Our spring valedictorian is Kathleen Amanda Szajbely, who graduates with a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences after a rich undergraduate experience in areas that included the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association, Campus Housing, Waterloo Athletics and volunteering at fall open houses. 

“Each and every one of us has displayed resilience beyond imagination and that may just be the most important lesson that we can take away from our time here,” Szajbely said. “We’ve been taught how to grow.” 

The Governor General’s Gold Medal award is given to students with outstanding academic performances and records of scholarship at the graduate level. Emma Juracic (Kinesiology and Health Sciences) received this prestigious award following her doctoral dissertation examining the roles of two newly discovered proteins and their interactions. Simon Friesen (Kinesiology and Health Sciences) received the Alumni Gold Medal as the next top graduating student and Chloe Eve McLeod (Kinesiology and Health Sciences) was named a Governor General’s Gold Medal master’s finalist. 

Congratulations to all, and best wishes to the class of 2024!