In October, we launched the "Inspired by UWaterloo Contest" on Instagram to celebrate the Fall 2020 Convocation. With three prizes on the line, students and alumni took to the comments, sharing why a particular Waterloo community member inspires them. The result was over 500 entries of heartfelt and encouraging stories from individuals who had been supported by friends, class-mates, mentors, faculty and more. Read on to see the stories from four alumni about the inspirational impact that others made on their lives. 

"A beacon of light"

by Timothy Chang Kit (BMath '19) 

Timothy and CherisseOftentimes we hear the stories of university, they speak to topics such as partying, being independent, hard work but ultimately a ton of fun. For the most part, these messages can be true, but it misconstrues the entire experience because it disregards the level of stress that comes with school. The long hours, the difficulty of the courses and the balancing of mental health. These experiences are usually tough to handle, but then you meet people like Chérisse Mike (BA '17); an individual who is kind and cares. Chérisse inspires me to be that beacon of light for people when they’re shuffling through their darkness and toils of the real world. A friendly face who has a hand extended out before one is even asked for. That’s exactly how we met; through the Association of Caribbean Students (ACS) Chérisse reached out to me and my friends to help involve us in one of the many joys of the campus. From there, memories flowed. She guided me through university with the knowledge from her experiences and well after I graduated; from sending me job postings to totally reconstructing my LinkedIn. Chérisse is a light that inspires. 

Read more about Chérisse and her involvement in our campus community.

A personality that "radiates friendship"

by Colin Dunn (BA '17)

MerylThe person who inspires me is someone that I can truly say, I will always have a strong friendship with. Meryl Norris (BA '16) and I met while we were in the same program together, Recreation and Sports Business. We had a lot of mutual friends and even though she was a couple of years ahead of me in the program our friendship grew quite strong. We continue to enjoy concerts, hangouts, talks together and she inspires me every day. Meryl pours her heart into every job she has held and even right now, continuing her education as well as thriving in her position as the Coordinator of Orientation. That is no small feat, and the level of care she puts into it just solidifies how much she truly cares about Waterloo.

ColinShe inspires me to go above and beyond in everything I do and truly have a passion for every aspect of life, whether that be work or life outside of work. Meryl’s personality radiates friendship and you will always find Meryl greeting you with open arms for a hug and smiles. 

"I knew she was an inspiration from the start"

by Taylor Valnion (BA '17, MA '19)

Taylor and ChloeIn 2014, I was blessed to meet Chloe Nelson (BA '17) thanks to shared classes in the French Teaching Specialization program. I knew she was an inspiration from the start since I wanted to be her friend (before she even knew who I was) based on how I saw her interact with others and light up a room. Since then, we've studied abroad in France together, completed our undergraduate programs, and even been roommates in North Bay as we pursued our Bachelor of Education degrees. Chloe is resilient and demonstrates such strength through personal struggles, seeing the growth that comes out of any situation. She's also determined and dedicated to her goals. I know this because I've watched her blossom into a wonderful teacher who's passionate about the French language and inspiring students to be their best selves. Chloe is such a positive person and motivates me to be my best self, which is why she's so inspirational and one of my very best friends.  

"...just kept me going"

by Selena Uong (BSc '19)

Selena and Vanessa“Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you even when you don’t see it yourself” – Edmund Lee.

Vanessa Yuan (BSc '19) and I met in high school, where we excelled in sports. As much as we became rivals, we grew even stronger as friends. We ended up enrolling into the University of Waterloo’s Kinesiology program and decided to room together. As someone who shares a strong bond with my family, living away from home was the hardest thing I had to face at the time, but I owed it to Vanessa to make my time away much less difficult. Just like they say, you never really know someone until you live with them. Her calm demeanor and confidence has helped me get through my hard days. The way she repeatedly tells me that she believes in me just kept me going, and finally on to the finish line, there we were holding our degree up high. And here we are, not only doing great things, but great things that we love.