Graduate student Heidi Fernandes receives prestigious teaching award

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Heidi receiving her award

Heidi Fernandes, a Masters student in the School of Pharmacy, has received the Amit and Meena Chakma Award for Exceptional Teaching by a Student.  This prestigious award is open to all students who teach at the University of Waterloo, and only four are awarded each year.

Heidi is the first School of Pharmacy student to receive this recognition. Her students, peers and faculty members commented on her superb leadership, teaching methods, adaptability, and passion in teaching. A faculty member remarked that Fernandes “has already become [the] ‘go-to’ person when [instructors] need someone to lead a teaching activity.”

In particular, nominators noted her exemplary leadership in Integrated Patient Focused Care 9, a challenging course where she guided students in their learning, provided constructive feedback and facilitated class dynamics with excellence. In this course, Fernandes implemented an active teaching strategy of pairing up students to learn and teach from each other, which made a profound difference in her students’ learning.

A student commented that Fernandes had the “ability to take complex topics and explain them in a very clear, structured and simple manner.” Fernandes consistently makes “it a priority to provide [her students] with all the support needed to succeed.” She also completed the Fundamentals of University Teaching certificate offered by the Centre for Teaching Excellence.

“We are very fortunate at the School of Pharmacy to have outstanding TAs like Heidi who are able to make significant contributions to the education of our undergraduate students,” said David Edwards, Hallman Director of the School of Pharmacy. 

As a graduate student with a passion for travel medicine, Heidi has also explored numerous opportunities to collaborate and work in communities abroad. While completing her PharmD at the School of Pharmacy she attended a medical mission serving impoverished patients in Peru. She is now a licenced pharmacist and recently returned from a similar mission in rural Uganda.

Fernandes was a teaching assistant for PHARM 222, PHARM 223, PHARM 422, and lab facilitator for PHARM 229, PHARM 329.  She also guest lectured for PHARM 378, PHARM 472, SWK 601R and was a supervisor for PHARM 401. She is currently completing her Masters under the supervisor of Professor Sherilyn Houle.

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