Celebrating Waterloo’s Class of 2023 valedictorians
Meet the 14 inspiring individuals representing Waterloo’s newest grads
Meet the 14 inspiring individuals representing Waterloo’s newest gradsBy Angelica Marie Sanchez University Relations
Convocation is a special time to celebrate a significant milestone. These 14 exceptional students have been chosen to represent the graduating class of 2023.
Below they share about their academic journey filled with innovation, resilience and passion.
Before coming to Waterloo, Thomass Muir (BGBDA ’23) was unsure what to study out of her three fields of interest: business, technology or design. But then she discovered the Global Business and Digital Arts program at Waterloo which combined the three subjects into one degree.
“The program offered the opportunity to complete an internship and exchange program, which was an added bonus,” Muir says.
As a student, Muir has been able to develop a portfolio fit for a product designer through her volunteer roles on campus. Muir was a UI/UX designer and later the executive marketing director for the 2022 Fashion for Change show — an annual event held to fundraise money for a local charity within the Region of Waterloo.
Muir is graduating with a Bachelor of Global Business and Digital Arts. After graduation, she plans on taking a few months to travel and explore the world before starting her career as a product designer.
For Maya Bishop (BASc ’23), the University of Waterloo stood out for her because of the co-operative education program that co-op allowed her to pay for her own bills and gain a lot of work experience.
As an Engineering student, Bishop volunteered as an orientation leader welcoming incoming first-year students to Waterloo. She was then appointed student society president where she advocated for students in the Electrical and Computer Engineering programs.
Bishop is graduating with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Computing Engineering. She looks forward to working at Bloomberg in New York City as a software engineer.
Matthew John Linehan (BASc ’23) knew studying engineering at a renowned institution like Waterloo would challenge him to push his limits and grow both academically and personally. Linehan enrolled in the Environmental Engineering program, knowing that he would be able to gain the knowledge and skills necessary for him to address pressing environmental issues and develop meaningful solutions.
“Choosing to study at Waterloo was a decision that stemmed from a desire to surround myself with individuals who share my passion for sustainability and creating positive change in the world,” Linehan says.
Linehan is eager to pursue a career in hydrology and water resources engineering in Vancouver. He hopes that through his career he will be able to work on large-scale international engineering projects that can have meaningful contribution to sustainable development goals.
Advitya Chhabra (BSE ’23) was interested in Waterloo because of the hands-on experience the co-operative education program offers for students. The Velocity incubator was another deciding factor for Chhabra because his goal is to one day start his own technology company.
“I felt the resources provided by Velocity and the experience gained during my internships would help me get there as quick as possible,” Chhabra says.
Chhabra is graduating with a Bachelor of Software Engineering and will be working as a software engineer in New York for a financial services company.
Ahmed Abdelkader (BSc ’23) is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences. He picked Waterloo to remain close to his family, and to play for the Varsity Football and Varsity Squash teams.
While an undergraduate student, Abdelkader started his own tutoring company, Evesco Edu. During its run, Evesco Edu supported more than 400 students through online tutoring and raised more than $7,000 for charity. He was also the recipient of the Fairfax Financial Academic All-Canadian Award in 2020, given to top student athletes.
Abdelkader will be returning to Waterloo in the fall in the Master of Kinesiology program, while continuing to represent Waterloo’s Varsity Squash team. He plans to pursue a Doctor of Medicine program in the future.
During one of her co-op terms, Katie Ivancic (BA ’23) built a program called AthLead, which supports varsity student-athletes seeking corporate work experience during the summer.
“AthLead is very special to me because it’s something I wish I had access to when I was going through my own co-op work terms,” Ivancic says. “No student athlete should ever be forced to decide between accepting a job or keeping their spot on the roster.”
Ivancic is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Recreation and Sports Business. She sees herself working within the sports industry and applying what she learned at Waterloo.
Bennett Paul Gallant (BES ’23) is graduating with a Bachelor of Environmental Studies in Environment and Business. Gallant first visited campus on a rainy day in the middle of exam season, but despite it being cold, wet and empty, he immediately felt at home.
One of his fondest memories (and proudest achievement to date) at Waterloo was being an orientation leader for the Faculty of Environment.
“I am most proud of planning and executing Environment orientation 2021 with my fellow orientation team,” Gallant says. “In a time when nothing was certain, we were able to welcome hundreds of new students from around the world to our community.”
Gallant looks forward to working for the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change on carbon pricing policies to promote decarbonization of Canadian industry. “I hope to be able to find economic solutions to our greatest environmental challenges and to promote an equitable transition to net-zero.”
Yonael Debebe (BASc ’23) is graduating with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Systems Design Engineering. Debebe is most proud of his achievements in racial advocacy within Engineering community.
“Founding and leading a working group that did research on the demographics and experiences of undergraduate engineering students was truly one of my greatest achievements,” Debebe says. “It was the first research of its kind at a provincial level, and it was also a much needed and important step in understanding equity, diversity and inclusion in the Engineering community.”
For more than two years, Debebe was also the president of the National Society of Black Engineers, a student-run organization working to build Waterloo’s Black Engineering student community.
Debebe will be working as an analyst for a tech practice of a consulting firm, where he hopes to learn about the different ways technology helps shape the world.
When Ammar Kamran (BCFM ’23) was a high school student, he was drawn to the Waterloo’s exceptional co-operative education program.
“University of Waterloo’s education – much like a carefully woven tapestry – tightly interlaces classroom learning and workplace experience,” Kamran says. He recalls being an intern at Meta as a software engineer as a pinnacle achievement.
“My time at Meta was meaningful because I was one of the few undergraduate interns on the Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research team and I got to work closely with state-of-the-art AI research for natural language translation.”
Kamran is graduating with a Bachelor of Computing and Financial Management and aspires to work for multinational corporations in the field of software and finance.
As a high school student, Vincent Macri (BMath ’23) was told by all his teachers that Waterloo was the place to study mathematics.
Macri recalls having a special “heart-to-heart" moment with his orientation leaders during his first week at Waterloo. As a student, Macri remembered that moment all too well where the orientation leaders shared helpful advice to comfort students who were feeling nervous.
Macri is graduating with a Bachelor of Mathematics – a double major in Pure Math and Combinatorics and Optimization and will be attending the University of Calgary this fall to pursue a master’s degree. “I’m planning to work in cryptography, which is a field I fell in love with after working for my algebra professor at Waterloo,”
Arjun Jain (BA ’23), also recalls orientation week as one of his fondest memories at Waterloo. As a first-year student trying to make friends, Jain worked up the courage to ask a fellow student if he could sit next to them in the Village One cafeteria.
“I ended up getting along really well with this person and we stayed close friends,” Jain says. “It’s funny how sometimes choosing who you sit next to in the cafeteria can make a big difference in your life!”
Jain is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Arts and Business, with a Human Resource Management minor. He will be attending teacher’s college at Western University this upcoming fall.
For as long as he could remember, Tyler Jing (BSc ’23) was always fascinated with aviation —using airline magazine ads as posters for his room and being more excited about the plane trip than the vacation destination.
Waterloo’s Science and Aviation program was the perfect opportunity for Jing to pursue his passions for aviation and complete his required flight training to become a commercial pilot.
“As a young program and student society, I have personally seen our student community flourish and increase engagement each year,” Jing says, giving thanks to his friends in Aviation and the Waterloo Aviation Society.
Jing is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Science and Aviation. He will have his hands full this summer as he begins his role as a flight instructor rating at Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre, while also working as a research assistant for Dr. Paul Parker and the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Aeronautics.
Toluwalope Wright (BASc ’23) remembers having to design and test paper airplanes during one of his first-year classes as an Engineering student.
“At the time, it seemed like a very trivial and easy exercise,” Wright says. “But it was the moment that marked the beginning of my ability to think like an engineer.”
Wright is graduating with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering and plans on taking a short break – his first extended break within five years.
“Afterwards, I hope to gain more work experience in the engineering simulation and project engineering industries before heading back to grad school,” Wright says.
As a very active student in the Waterloo community, Carolyn Wang (BMath ’23) recalls all the different roles she has had while studying Statistics at Waterloo.
Wang volunteered for MathSoc before becoming vice-president of internal relations. She was also an orientation leader, helping first-year students transition to university life, and served as a member of the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA) Access and Disability committee.
“A lot of memories to mind — during my time at Waterloo I got to live in New York City for a summer internship and Switzerland as an exchange student,” Wang says. “But as a personal memory, exploring new cultures and publishing a paper during a research co-op with Dr. Anita Layton is up there!”
Wang is graduating with a Bachelor of Mathematics in Statistics and will be taking some time off after convocation to spend time with her family before deciding her next steps.
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 our Office of Indigenous Relations.