Celebrating Waterloo’s Class of 2021 valedictorians
Nominated by their peers, six exceptional students have inspired their colleagues with passion and resilience
Nominated by their peers, six exceptional students have inspired their colleagues with passion and resilienceBy Victoria Lumax University Relations
Graduating from university is a significant achievement. Culminating years of dedication and hard work, convocation is a time for celebration — looking back with pride and looking forward with hope.
This milestone is even more meaningful for Waterloo’s six undergraduate valedictorians, who, for their social and academic contributions, have been chosen by their peers to represent them at their respective graduation ceremonies. Read about their Waterloo journeys below.
Much has happened for Kyle Rowe (BGBDA ‘21) between celebrating his Waterloo acceptance in his high school library in North Vancouver, BC, and leading his cohort into their futures as valedictorian. Rowe is graduating with an Honours Bachelor of Global Business and Digital Arts (GBDA), along with a Global Experience Certificate (GEC) — a degree that both represented a mix of his interests and pushed him to discover new passions.
Rowe is especially grateful to his professors for their mentorship and feels very lucky to have worked with them for the past four years: “I challenge anyone to find professors who care more about their students than those in Stratford.”
Rowe currently works in brand management and digital marketing and has future plans to complete a master’s degree in Europe. With dreams to start his own marketing agency, Rowe has set his sights on big things.
Jonathan Miguel Logarta-Chin (BASc ‘21) came to Waterloo with an open mind and is leaving with a new sense of confidence and hope. Logarta-Chin, graduating with a Bachelor of Civil Engineering, admits that becoming valedictorian is validation that all his struggles, hardships and doubts were worth it.
While proud of becoming valedictorian and receiving “arguably the most expensive piece of paper in my life,” he is also proud of a personal achievement — coming out as gay.
For Logarta-Chin, his friends played an important role in his university career. What he will miss most, other than “the extreme sport of geese dodging,” is the daily interactions with his peers, whether it was on campus or just throughout Waterloo. One of his fondest memories was moving into residence, and the many accompanying fun times and adventures.
Logarta-Chin will soon be working at BA group as a Designer EIT, a job he was offered one month before his last exam. He is excited for the future of his professional career and believes this is only just the beginning.
“For the engineering class of 2021, this is just beginning for all of us. Use all the lessons you’ve learned and transform it into motivation for your next move. Achieving success only comes through actions guided by the heart.”
When Lauren Petropoulos (BES ‘21) first toured the Waterloo campus, she felt a sense of comfort — and everything just clicked. Petropoulos chose Waterloo because of the Faculty of Environment’s great programs and the incredible potential of co-op, and she feels fortunate to be using her education to engage with topics she finds deeply meaningful.
“It’s important to make sure that you are prioritizing yourself and also doing your best,” says Petropoulos. “The times where I do something spontaneous or get out of my comfort zone are the times where I feel the most fulfilled, and I’m proud of everything that I have accomplished over this degree.”
She provided leadership within her program, serving as president of the Waterloo Environment and Business Society. Petropoulos also volunteered her time with clubs such as Impact Alliance, World Merit Waterloo and Student Energy.
As an Honours Environment and Business graduate, she is eager to work toward policy change that increases energy equity and climate justice in Canada and beyond. She is currently a Policy Analyst at Natural Resources Canada and looks forward to finding new ways to educate others on how both individuals and institutions can make change.
Exiting high school, Rithvika Ramesh (BSc ‘21) had a lot of questions about her career path. As she progressed through her degree at Waterloo, she found that her program — Honours Health Studies — answered many of them, presenting a variety of learning opportunities and an intriguing interdisciplinary approach to health care.
As a first generation Canadian, who emigrated from India to Canada with her family as a toddler, being chosen as valedictorian means the world to Ramesh.
“The pride and joy expressed from my family, both in Canada and India, epitomizes how meaningful this milestone is to us.”
Ramesh feels very fortunate when reflecting on her accomplishments, such as being a mentor in her community, helping others get vaccinated, finishing her undergraduate thesis and getting into both law school and medical school. She is especially grateful for the encouragement of her friends, colleagues and family.
“But it would be remiss if I did not mention that I have an incredible support system that has empowered me to achieve every single thing on that list,” says Ramesh. “None of my accomplishments were attained in isolation, and for that I am grateful.”
Ramesh will be starting medical school this fall at McMaster University. She states that her goal is to be a welcoming and supportive health-care professional.
“I hope that my future career is one where I can be an advocate every day and help those around me. I am not yet certain in what capacity I will be doing any of this, but I am eager to begin the journey.”
Monica Xu’s (BCS ‘21) interest in Waterloo began with Waterloo math contests, all the way from the Grade 7 Gauss to the Grade 12 Euclid. Graduating with a degree in Computer Science, minor in statistics, Xu was drawn to the University because of its emphasis on the creation, study and potential of technology.
“The community thrived in innovation, problem-solving and collaboration, and that was something I wanted to be a part of.”
While at Waterloo, she volunteered as product manager at UW Blueprint, a student organization all about “tech for social good” that offers pro-bono technical services to non-profits.
“Promoting diversity and inclusion of underrepresented minorities in technology is also something very important to me, so I spent a great deal of my time in extra-curricular activities towards diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) advocacy.”
Monica will be moving to New York to work as a product manager in the tech industry. Long-term, she is looking forward to travelling the world, learning new things and “building products that make people happy.”
Science, anti-racism and law: Chinonso Ekeanyanwu (BSc ‘21) recognizes that her undergraduate journey was a little untraditional. As valedictorian, she hopes to demonstrate to her peers how they can be successful by staying curious and persistent.
“My biggest hope was to show others how you can mix and match your interests with science to create and pursue unique career paths and opportunities,” says Ekeanyanwu. “I struggled more than I want to admit, and more than most people know, at various stages of my academic career, so being chosen to represent the Science class is such an honour.”
Despite her hesitancy and doubts at Waterloo, she persisted through them and states that, when looking back, there is nothing she would have done differently.
“Each fork in the road, each mental breakdown and all-nighter led me to where I am now,” says Ekeanyanwu. “And I am proud of where I am now. That for me is the true definition of success.”
While Ekeanyanwu will miss “living in the bubble tea capital of Canada,” she is looking forward to pursuing a law degree at Western University. With the fields of health and pharmaceutical law being of special interest, she is eager to use scientific background to increase equity and justice in the field of health care.
The University of Waterloo acknowledges that much of our work takes place on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. Our main campus is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land granted to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River. Our active work toward reconciliation takes place across our campuses through research, learning, teaching, and community building, and is co-ordinated within the Office of Indigenous Relations.