WATERLOO, Ont. (Thursday, Mar. 15, 2012) - The University of Waterloo, the world’s leader in co-operative education, will honour six accomplished co-op students during National Co-op Week.

As part of the week’s celebrations, which occur March 19 - 23, one co-op student from each of Waterloo’s six faculties will receive the 2011 University of Waterloo Co-op Student of the Year Award. The ceremony will take place at the William M. Tatham Centre on Thursday, March 22 at 11:00 a.m. The university is recognizing these students primarily for exemplary workplace performance on a 2011 work term, along with factors such as community involvement, academic excellence, and contribution to co-operative education.

"The winners are among the many exceptional students enrolled in co-op," says Peggy Jarvie, executive director of Co-operative Education & Career Action. "Their successes demonstrate the determination and passion for learning that Waterloo represents. It is with great pleasure that we recognize their accomplishments and thank them for their dedication."

National Co-op Week celebrates the growth of co-op education programs across the country. Waterloo is home to the world's largest co-op program. The co-op system has benefitted students, employers and academic institutions since its launch at the University of Waterloo in 1957.



2011 University of Waterloo Co-op Students of the Year

The winners of Co-op Student of the Year are:

Applied Health Sciences: Christina Marchand - Health Studies

Christina Marchand, 2011 University of Waterloo Co-op Student of the Year for Applied Health Sciences

Christina played a key role in several projects during her co-op term at St. Michael’s Hospital. As project manager of the Women in Cancer initiative, she promoted the organization through exhibits, events and publications. Her efforts increased membership in Women in Cancer by more than 30 per cent, while saving her company $15,000. Christina was also instrumental in the launch of the COMET Clinical Trials Consortium, a virtual network that links medical oncologists across the Greater Toronto Area. In addition, she presented two of her research papers at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, a gathering of the world’s top professionals in breast cancer research.

Arts: Mei Chen - Accounting and Financial Management

Mei Chen, 2011 University of Waterloo Co-op Student of the Year for Arts

Mei’s interest in tax led her to two productive co-op terms as tax analyst at IBM Canada. In her most recent term, Mei completed 30 per cent of the IBM Canada tax return and 80 per cent of IBM’s alliance companies’ tax returns. As a result of her advanced understanding of tax concepts, Mei’s manager chose her to sit on the due diligence team for an IBM acquisition valued at $387 million. She worked with a team of top professionals to identify potential issues with the transaction, and to provide recommendations. Outside of work, Mei gives her time to numerous student groups and has volunteered with the YWCA and Canadian Mental Health Association.

Engineering: Sasanka Nagavalli - Mechatronics Engineering

Sasanka Nagavali, 2011 University of Waterloo Co-op Student of the Year for Engineering

Sasanka’s passion for space robotics fuelled a successful work term with Neptec Design Group, a company that develops advanced spaceflight sensors and rovers for space agencies around the world. Over the course of the term, Sasanka made significant contributions to the software design of a prototype 3D scanning sensor to be mounted on experimental lunar rovers. In his second week on the job, Sasanka presented his preliminary design for the ground station software to the Canadian Space Agency. He went on to identify and implement significant improvements to another sensor’s embedded software. Sasanka quickly earned the trust and respect of his colleagues, giving him the opportunity to introduce several new technologies to the development processes at Neptec.

Environment: Samantha Lynne Dupré - Environment and Resource Studies

Samantha Lynne Dupré, 2011 University of Waterloo Co-op Student of the Year for Environment

The influx of invasive species in the Great Lakes is a major environmental concern with potentially devastating ecological consequences. During her work term with the International Joint Commission, Samantha conducted extensive research on the aquatic invasive species monitoring efforts currently underway in the Great Lakes, using GIS software to map the data she collected from stakeholders in Ontario, Quebec and eight U.S. states. She gained broad support for the project after presenting her research to a group of international experts at the Great Lakes Aquatic Nuisance Species Panel. Her high-calibre report will inform future aquatic invasive species planning efforts by the Canadian and U.S. governments.

Mathematics: Terrence Chin - Actuarial Science, Finance Option

Terrence Chin, 2011 University of Waterloo Co-op Student of the Year for Math

Terrence went far beyond his listed job description on his work term at Mercer, making significant contributions to numerous additional projects. He was instrumental in obtaining and verifying the quotes for 46 separate not-for-profit groups across Canada, informing the implementation of a group benefit plan for a large not-for-profit organization. Terrence’s exceptional communication skills served him well during the presentation of a report to a large potential client. His ability to explain technical concepts in an accessible way impressed the client, and the presentation was successful in winning new business for Mercer.

Science: Janet Nguyen - Biology

Janet Nguyen, 2011 University of Waterloo Co-op Student of the Year for Science

On her work term at the Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Centre, Janet proactively identified two areas for improvement in the quality of life of radiotherapy patients. After conducting extensive research, she drafted two grant proposals for pilot clinical trials, successfully securing a total of $350,000 in funding. Over the course of her five work terms at Sunnybrook, Janet has first-authored eight publications in peer-reviewed journals and presented her research at conferences from Vancouver to Athens. She was also the editor-in-chief of a bone metastases handbook that is used by oncology professionals across the world.

In addition to these winners, Evgeny Shulyatyev of Computer Science, Nathan Jones of Nanotechnology Engineering, Kaitlin Koo of Health Studies, and Sameer Shah of Environment and Resource Studies received honourable mentions.

Co-operative Education and Career Action is an academic support unit of the University of Waterloo. It presents the Co-op Student of the Year Award annually.

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