As 2023 draws to a close, we cannot forget what a challenging year it was for us as an institution and a community.    

All too often, especially when significant events capture the public’s attention, how we are perceived is shaped by what others say about us. 

So that no one defines us but ourselves, we asked our community: What is the University of Waterloo made of? 

The un-scripted responses I heard were as inspiring, creative and heartfelt as the people who make up the University of Waterloo.

We are many things. But most importantly, we are a community.   

As we approach 2024 and look forward to the promise of a new year, let’s remind the world, and each other, exactly who we are and what we’re made of.

Thank you for being part of our community. 

I wish you all a joyful and restful holiday break, and I look forward to seeing you in the new year.  


 Vivek Goel signature

Vivek Goel 

Bonus video: What are you made of?

Each person at Waterloo is made up of their own unique formula. Find out what some of your colleagues are made of.

Bonus video: What is President Goel made of?

President Goel reflects on what he and the University of Waterloo are made of.


Bonus content: Meet your colleagues 

Thank you to all the students, faculty and staff who participated in the video. Learn more about each participant. 


Juan Moreno CruzName: Juan Moreno Cruz

Pronouns: He/Him
UWaterloo affiliation: Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in the Faculty of Environment

Who they are: “I wouldn't call myself an expert, but I like hosting people at home and slowly and gently learning their stories. Professionally, I am an expert at exploring the role of new technologies in causing and addressing the long-term environmental problems and how to regulate those technologies.”

Justin WilmotName: Justen Wilmot

Pronouns: He/Him
UWaterloo affiliation: Faculty of Science, undergraduate student

Who they are: “My passion is science, particularly in the medical field. I want to become a cardiologist in the future.”

Arunemathi ShanmugamName: Arunemathi Shanmugam

Pronouns: He/Him
UWaterloo affiliation: Faculty of Science, undergraduate student

Who they are: “I have a passion for helping people and the environment. Helping people directly and being involved in protecting the environment (including organisms and natural resources) offers me fulfillment and joy in knowing I am contributing to something meaningful. I highly value respect and believe everyone should treat each other and the planet with kindness and respect.”

David PoreccaName: David Porecca

Pronouns: He/Him
UWaterloo affiliation: President of FAUW, Faculty of Arts, Associate Professor; Co-Director, Medieval Studies

Who they are: “I am an intellectual historian of antiquity and the Middle Ages. I read medieval Latin manuscripts, I teach Latin, and I translate Latin (and French, and Italian) texts into English. My passion right now is making the Faculty Association, and thereby the University, run better.”

Jasmine Chan

Name: Jasmine Chan

Pronouns: She/Her
UWaterloo affiliation: Faculty of Math, undergraduate student

Who they are: “There are some super lame things that I am an expert in, such as identifying Pokemon or Taylor Swift songs, but I would say I'm also an expert in persuasion and debating. I don't know if it's because I watched too much Suits (or because my parents never let me get a pet when I was younger and I would have to write persuasive essays as to why I *needed* a dog), but I find myself being fairly good with words.”

Jean Andrey

Name: Jean Andrey

Pronouns: She/Her
UWaterloo affiliation: Faculty of Environment, Professor and former Dean

Who they are: “Professionally, I have spent my career developing expertise in environmental sustainability — and especially in the human dimensions of climate change. I delight in the challenge of learning what and how people think and know, and of helping them develop new/deeper understanding(s).”

Jing Xu

Name: Jing Xu

Pronouns: He/Him
UWaterloo affiliation: Faculty of Science, undergraduate student

Who they are: “I like going with the flow of things. I've never had a passion in a specific field growing up, which also affected my choice of university programs and my involvement with the university. Through co-op and the other extra-curriculars I'm involved in, I have an opportunity to explore what I do and don't like as well as what I'm good at.”

Keeley Isinghood

Name: Keeley Isinghood

Pronouns: She/Her
UWaterloo affiliation: Faculty of Math, undergraduate student

Who they are: “I like combining the power of mathematics and human connection to make the world a better place because my two passions are math and building relationships. I believe that those two things together are unstoppable, because numbers need humans to make sense of them and humans need numbers to make sense of their lives.”

Leia Minaker

Name: Leia Minaker

Pronouns: She/Her
UWaterloo affiliation: Treasurer FAUW, Faculty of Environment, Associate Professor, Director, Future Cities Initiative

Who they are: “I'm passionate about creating and collaborating. This applies to creating groups of people that work well together to get stuff done, creating research that matters for knowledge users, or creating a delicious meal or a beautiful garden. I love working with and learning from other people who are also interested in building and creating cool stuff.”

Lyndsy Acheson

Name: Lyndsy Acheson

Pronouns: She/Her
UWaterloo affiliation: Faculty of Science, undergraduate student

Who they are: “Hockey holds a special place in my heart due to the multifaceted impact it has had on my personal growth and wellbeing. As I continue to explore the intersection of physics and other fields, I aim to contribute positivity to the world, all while drawing inspiration from the logical and analytical mindset instilled in me by my love for physics.”

Oumar El-Aina

Name: Oumar El-Aina

Pronouns: He/Him
UWaterloo affiliation: Faculty of Health, undergraduate student

Who they are: “I definitely like a lot of things to do with community. So I think the university is a really big, tight knit community, even though there's different groups in different places. Someone always knows somebody. I'm really just trying to get myself involved, trying to get to know different people in different areas, not only for myself, but just to create that overall out of the community.”

Suzanne Kearns

Name: Suzanne Kearns

Pronouns: She/Her
UWaterloo affiliation: Faculty of Environment, Founding Director at Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Aeronautics, Associate Professor

Who they are: “My passion is supporting the next generation of aviators to help shape and innovate the aviation industry.”

Unzila Shahzad

Name: Unzila Shahzad

Pronouns: She/Her
UWaterloo affiliation: Faculty of Arts, undergraduate student

Who they are: “My passion lies in working with children, particularly in advocating for those who cannot speak for themselves. I believe that children are incredibly resilient. They possess an innate strength and adaptability that can teach us all valuable lessons about overcoming adversity.”

Kevin George

Name: Kevin George

Pronouns: He/Him
UWaterloo affiliation: Indigenous Special Projects Coordinator, Office of Indigenous Relations

Who they are: “It's a trick question. I think the answer is that there's not really a 'me' per se. So what I am made of would be all those ones that came before and all those ones that are coming after. And of course, there's experiences, there's spirit, there's emotion, there's, the physical, but I am made of all of it. I don't exist outside of my relations. I don't exist outside of my clan, my nation. There's a saying that that we have… we say 'all my relations.' That means that we're all connected. I am my ancestors. My ancestors are me. So really, what I'm made of is all of it.”

Sorour Yekeh

Name: Sorour Yekeh

Pronouns: She/Her
UWaterloo affiliation: Faculty of Engineering, PhD student

Who they are: “My passion is painting, which I learned while I was a student in architectural engineering back in Iran. But after I started studying at UW right now I'm diving into a building integrated photovoltaic world, and I'm trying to find out how virtual reality can enhance using solar energy in our buildings.”

UWSA executive standing in front of a yellow backdrop.

Names: Yessenia Guerrero, Lisa Habel, Gail Spencer, Carly Richardson, Laura McDonald, Agata Jagielska
UWaterloo affiliation: University of Waterloo Staff Association representatives

Who they are: “Our motivation is giving a voice to underrepresented staff. Helping staff be their best. I would say that a lot of our passion and drive comes from representing groups that are overlooked, for example, minority groups on campus, and making sure that all of them feel a sense of belonging on campus.”

Aurnab Chakraborty

Name: Aurnab Chakraborty

Pronouns: He/Him
UWaterloo affiliation: Faculty of Health, undergraduate student

Who they are: “I have some outstanding extreme dreams. There are research bases in Antarctica, which occasionally need a doctor or a health researcher. I'd love to end up there.”