Recipients of Co-op Student of the Year Awards

From left to right: Adnan Khan (Arts), Natalya O'Neil (Science), Baraa Hamodi (Engineering), Regan Zink (Environment), Pearl Zaki (Applied Health Sciences) and Alister D'Costa (Mathematics)

A University of Waterloo student who is helping to educate people about a serious medical condition is among six students the University is recognizing for their outstanding achievements in co-operative education. 

Natalya O’Neill is the winner of the Faculty of Science’s Co-op Student of the Year Award. She spent two work terms with the hematology unit at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, where she created a medical alert card and educational booklet for patients with asplenia, or abnormal spleen function, and at high risk of infection. In addition to winning her Faculty’s Co-op Student of the Year Award, she also received an honourable mention for the Education at Work Ontario (EWO) Co-op Student of the Year Award.

“Our students never cease to amaze us,” said Peggy Jarvie, associate provost, Co-operative and Experiential Education at Waterloo. “The contributions they make on their work terms are truly remarkable. This year’s winners embody the world-class talent that the University has become known for over the past six decades.”

The following are the recipients of the 2016 University of Waterloo Co-op Student of the Year Awards for their contributions to co-operative education and their community. This is Waterloo’s top award for students in a co-op program.

Pearl Zaki – Health Studies (Faculty of Applied Health Sciences)

Zaki completed two work terms at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto as a clinical research assistant. Working in the palliative cancer centre, her various responsibilities included collecting data, managing various research databases, accruing patients to ongoing clinical trials, following up with patients and conducting several research projects. Zaki also wrote two manuscripts that will be submitted for publication in the peer-reviewed Journal of Pain Management.

Adnan Khan – Accounting and Financial Management (Faculty of Arts)

In his role as a business analyst and consultant at Deloitte’s Toronto office, Khan took on many leadership initiatives. He learned how to use an emerging data analytic software called Tableau, which allowed him to take the lead on building interactive dashboards for a client. Khan later presented on data visualization at two of Deloitte’s national learning and growth sessions. Khan also took on a pro bono consulting project for a not-for-profit organization and presented directly to the executive team. He was also heavily involved in the development of new co-op students at Deloitte where he developed a condensed training session for new hires.

Baraa Hamodi – Mechatronics Engineering (Faculty of Engineering)

Hamodi joined Facebook at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California as a front end engineer intern. He wrote code that displayed live election results on Facebook during the 2016 presidential race. His work reached millions of people worldwide. Hamodi was also a part of Facebook’s Messenger team, where he worked to bring new features such as group video calling and group polling to life. He made Messenger more accessible to users who are visually impaired by implementing components that screen readers can access.

Regan Zink – Urban Planning (Faculty of Environment)

During her work term with MHBC Planning’s Kitchener and Barrie locations, Zink was responsible for preparing up to 15 proposals for a variety of projects, securing more than $100,000 for the company. While on her work term, she also noted that there was a lack of documented guidance for co-op students, so she developed the MHBC Student Manual, which co-op students now receive when they join MHBC’s Kitchener office.

Alister D’Costa – Bioinformatics (Faculty of Mathematics)

D’Costa worked as a bioinformatics/biotechnology software developer at Cyclica Inc. in Toronto. Combining his academic knowledge of biology, chemistry and computer science, he developed and successfully launched an app that minimizes time spent in a laboratory by predicting the interaction of various compounds. The app takes a drug or compound of interest and checks whether that drug or compound would be able to interact with a specific target protein and its binding effect.

Natalya O’Neill –Materials and Nanosciences (Faculty of Science)

In 2016, O’Neill completed two work terms at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. In her role as a clinical research assistant in the hematology unit, working alongside physicians, pharmacists and patients, O’Neill led the development of a medical alert card and supplementary educational booklet for patients with asplenia attending the hematology clinics at St. Michael’s. In addition to enhancing the recognition and understanding of the condition, her work promoted preventative measures against infection in this patient population. O’Neill is working with pediatricians to implement the project at the Hospital for Sick Children. Her work earned her an honourable mention for the Education at Work Ontario (EWO) Co-op Student of the Year Award.

In addition to the students listed above, John Pagado (Applied Heath Sciences), Jona Cho (Arts), Karan Bir (Engineering) and Stephanie Chan (Science) received honourable mentions for Waterloo’s 2016 Co-op Student of the Year Award.