The University of Waterloo community is home to countless students, faculty, staff and alumni who consistently go above and beyond. Staff are providing exceptional customer service, students are volunteering their time to help others, faculty members are showing genuine care and mentorship for their students, and these positive actions are all happening every day. The President’s Accolades aims to celebrate these stories of dedication, passion and contribution. If you know of a member or group making our University proud, be sure to submit their story today!
Pharmacy alumnus and grad student provides care in rural Uganda
Heidi Fernandes is a MSc student at the School of Pharmacy with a passion for global health. She heard about the Canada-Africa Community Health Alliance (CACHA) through a family physician on her thesis advisory committee – the Alliance works with local partners to provide disease prevention, treatment, support, and education for vulnerable people in four African countries. Heidi’s interest in global health has already taken her to Guatemala and Peru on volunteer missions. Excited for more travel health opportunities, she volunteered for a CACHA mission to Uganda in March. Heidi, who is a graduate of UWaterloo’s pharmacy program and a practicing pharmacist, joined a team of physicians, nurses, and health care students to travel to Kammengo, a rural village about an hour outside of Kampala, Uganda’s capital. Heidi and her colleagues set up a clinic and treated more than 400 patients a day over the course of two and a half weeks. As a pharmacist, Heidi worked with nurses and physicians to counsel patients on medication and also mentored other pharmacy students on the trip.
Professor James Skidmore and His Informative Senate Digest
In addition to being a long-standing and award-winning professor in the Faculty of Arts' department of Germanic & Slavic Studies, Dr. James Skidmore has served as a diligent member of the University of Waterloo Senate whose term ended this past April. What began as a concise report of Senate activities for the Faulty of Arts by James has blossomed into an insightful email newsletter called the "Senate Digest". Time and time again "Senator Skid" breathed life into the Senate agenda and activities with humour unique to this dedicated member of our community. He performed a selfless service to so many in the Faculty of Arts, and across campus, as a University Senator and his Digest will be missed my countless people.
Creating Community and Easing the Transition of International Students
The International Peer Community (IPC) is a peer-supported program offered through the Student Success Office’s International Student Experience team. This program would not be possible without the assistance of 53 upper-year peers who have helped create a memorable and supportive experience for first-year international students. Over the last year, the IPC has helped more than 900 participants connect with their upper-year peers through events such as bonfires, outdoor skating, Halloween “Extravaganzas”, excursions to Uptown Waterloo, picnics in Waterloo Park, and a variety of other activities. These enthusiastic upper-year peers continue to dedicate their time to building meaningful connections with first-year students and ease their transition to a new school, city, and culture, through intercultural opportunities, and should be recognized for their service to the University community.
Waterloo Student Helping to Build a Sustainable World After Earning Internship
Prashant Bagga always dreamed of interning at Microsoft. He had the opportunity to make that dream a reality in July 2018 as Microsoft hosted a hackathon at the University of Waterloo with the winner getting the opportunity to intern at Microsoft. Motivated by this prize, along with the help from his team, Phashant built a chatbot, won the hackathon, received the interview and, finally, landed his dream internship. This was a significant opportunity that Prashant took advantage of as he was able to contribute towards the Discover AI Challenge as one of his projects. With a team of two other UWaterloo students - Carter Kirilenko and Madhav Shukla, they built the entire website that urges students from across Canada to develop a sustainability solution by leveraging Microsoft AI.
PhD candidate and business ethics instructor makes a difference for her students
With a handwritten card at the end of the Winter 2019 term, PhD Candidate and instructor in business ethics, Vanessa Lam, made a big difference in the lives of her students. One particular student posted the homemade card that Vanessa had made for each of her students on Reddit. The student said in the post how much the card and the gesture meant to him during a stressful time. The post attracted widespread praise from hundreds of fellow students on Reddit and CBC News recognized her efforts as well. Vanessa deserves to be recognized for her kind gesture to students that seem small but can have a profound impact.
Waterloo Staff Member Gives Back with Service Dog Training
For the past three years, Andrew Scheifele from the Safety Office has had the pleasure of bringing a dog to work - not just any dog, a puppy training to become a service dog. He and his family serve as a foster family for dogs bred to be career service dogs. These dogs spend the first year of their lives living with a foster family before receiving formal service training. The first year is a crucial learning period where the dogs learn basic obedience skills, and how to socialize with people. The puppies experience the routines and places a future handler may take them when they are in service as a working animal. Chayse is the most recent dog to be part of Andrew's daily life at home and at work at the University of Waterloo. On graduation, Chayse will be assigned to a person in need at absolutely no cost. Andrew's dedication to fostering future service dogs is a testament to his dedication to making the lives of others better through volunteer work.
Pharmacy student gives back to KW Community
Ryan Pelletier, an ambitious Pharmacy student dedicated to making a change in the KW community, has been an active volunteer with Sanguen Health for several years. Sanguen Health is a health organization serving the Waterloo, Wellington, Dufferin, and Guelph regions which focus on supporting people living with or at risk of Hepatitis C. Ryan is a regular volunteer on their community health van, a mobile health unit that drives around to connect with people in their neighbourhood, providing essentials so that they can be prepared to focus on their health. Ryan’s commitment to giving back and improving our community is accompanied by extensive involvement in pharmacy student clubs – his dedication demonstrates his exceptional passion for improving lives in our community.
Registrar's Office Spirit Crew: Raising funds and spirits
The Registrar’s Office Spirit Crew was created 15 years ago to inspire fun and fundraising within our large, busy, deadline-focused department. The Spirit Crew organizes raffles, games, treat days, holiday themed events, and dress down days—helping to create a fun, positive and engaged environment within our office. RO staff rally around the University Christmas Project each year, purchasing toys and food vouchers for families in our community who might otherwise go without Christmas morning. Fundraising activities throughout the year support this Project as well as the United Way and other worthy causes that arise, such as the Humboldt Bronco’s GoFundMe initiative last year. Our enthusiastic Spirit Crew members include: Binah Straker, Maureen Jones, Mat Brown, Elysia Gallinaro, Michelle Coulombe, Anuja Bajaj, Amanda Vos, and Kelly Wilker-Draves.
UWaterloo students win NASA Award
A team of University of Waterloo students (Alex McVittie, Colin Tuen Muk, Corina Kwong, and Janet Hu) were one of six winners at NASA’s 2018 International Space Apps Challenge, winning in the “Most Inspirational” category for their app SongSAT. SongSAT is a tool to share the beauty of the world in different mediums, expressing the wonders of satellite imagery through audio. This allows the beauty of satellite imagery to communicate to an audience with visual impairments to enjoy the wonders of the world from above too, or to be used by musicians to aid with musical writing blocks.
Waterloo student and community stepping up to help others
On a very icy day the President's office received a phone call from Marie. Marie asked if she could recognize Jocelyn Williams (Kinesiology) for her kindness. On this icy day, Marie was taking the bus and Jocelyn helped her as she stepped off the bus. Jocelyn found out where she was headed and decided to accompany her on the long walk to be sure she arrived safely. Marie shared with the Office of the President that she had broken her leg a few years ago and in bad weather she has had three different University of Waterloo students help her near campus to be sure she gets to her destination safely. Marie is certain that without Jocelyn's help that morning she would have slipped on the ice.
University of Waterloo crowned Regional Second Runner Ups at Enactus Regional Competitions!
The Enactus Waterloo chapter was re-established in October 2018. Amongst nearly 3,500 Enactus Canada students and 73 academic institutions, they were able to be recognized as the Regional Second Runner Ups in both the Scotiabank Environmental Challenge and Scotiabank Youth Empowerment categories! Moreover, they've only been active for 6 months and had one of the smallest presentation teams of 7 members. The winning projects were PickWaste and Fem in STEM.
ECE Manager, Undergraduate Studies, Dave Harris, Improves the Lives of Students
In a department as large as Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), it can be very easy to feel that you are just another student that is seen as a number in the eyes of the staff and faculty. Dave currently serves as Manager, Undergraduate Studies for ECE, Dave Harris does not fit this description. He is a good listener, an advocate for the students and an integral part of our community. Everyday, Dave finds a way to improve the lives of the students, whether that is being there to listen, giving advice or actively working to better the well-being of the student body. Dave is deserving of recognition for all that he does and the difference he is making in the lives of students.
Student AFM Team Wins National EY Challenge Competition
A team of exceptional students from the School of Accounting and Finance won the EY Challenge in Toronto. The team, made up of AFM students Tristan Jagan, Darsh Khithani, Carter Janisse, and Mohamad Rasoul, represented Waterloo at this national competition in Toronto besting all other teams from universities across Canada.
Waterloo Graduate Student Researchers Named to NSERC’s Science, Action! Video Contest Top Entries
Three University of Waterloo graduate student researchers were recently made it as one of the top entries in NSERC’s Science, Action! video contest. Rina Wehbe, who is working towards her PhD Mathematics Computer Science at Cheriton School of Computer Science, produced an engaging video on her research in understanding the social and collaborative environment around large displays. Reinier Torres Labrada from the Faculty of Engineering is pursuing his PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering and his research video centred on his efforts to improve safety for real-time software. Second year MSc student, Siyavash Izadi from the Kinesiology program in Applied Health Sciences, was recognized for his video detailing his research on understanding motion sickness.
Waterloo eSports Team Places 3rd Out of 445 Colleges/Universities Across North America
A University of Waterloo eSports team took 3rd place out of 445 colleges/universities across North America in the Tespa Overwatch Collegiate Championships. The team's high finish also meant they were top among collegiate teams from across Canada.
Waterloo Arts Alum Jessica Kuepfer Signs with Team New Balance Once Again
University of Waterloo Arts alumni, award-winning PR professional, and exceptional tri-athlete, Jessica Kuepfer, once again signed with Team New Balance in January to represent the athletic brand to collaborate and work with the brand during her upcoming year of races. In addition to her active career, Jessica has developed into a world-class athlete and fitness ambassador through her blog Laces and Lattes where she discusses her training and races that includes the New York Marathon, Boston Marathon and the Lake Placid IRONMAN.
Continued Exceptional Service from Tim Horton's Staff Member Kathy Schiekoff
Day in and day out Tim Horton's staff member Kathy Schiekoff makes the coffee chain's Modern Languages location an exceptional place to visit. With a smile, a knack for remembering your coffee order and serving with an unwavering smile and positive attitude continues to make students, faculty and staff welcome in our community. Having served as a member of the University of Waterloo Food Services for nearly 30 years, Kathy has always stood out as someone who goes above and beyond each and every day.
LGBTQ+ Making Spaces Program Volunteers and Participants Making a Difference
The LGBTQ+ Making Spaces Program invites participants to learn more about gender identity/expression, sexual identity, homophobia, heterosexism, bi-phobia, transphobia and how these intersect with other identities. To date, more than 279 students, faculty and staff have completed the workshop. There are currently 89 volunteer trainers facilitating these workshops. This educational program was designed by members of the working group on sexual and gender diversity under the Provost's Advisory Committee on Equity (PACE), in collaboration with The Glow Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity in 2016.
Waterloo Warriors Women's Volleyball Team Continue Undefeated Season
The University of Waterloo Women's Volleyball team continues their historic season a perfect 13-0 through to the end of January, leading all OUA teams. The team has shown outstanding dedication that has paid off on the court and is making the Waterloo community proud.
Saturday Breakfast Seminar for International Students
Linda Zhang, a dedicated IST staff member, was once an international student in the U.S. who felt the struggles that many international students feel on campus. When she came to the University of Waterloo she decided to serve international students and have a real impact on their lives through volunteer work and organized Saturday Breakfast Seminar where international students get together for breakfast and discussions that always revolve around helping students to build resilience and coping strategies, which she believes aid in mental health and well being. She has been able to do this with the assistance of an internationalization grant from Waterloo International.
11th Annual Athletics & Recreation Think Pink Campaign
The 11th annual Think Pink campaign was once again a huge success for the Department of Athletics and Recreation. The annual event held during the month of November is an important fundraising and awareness campaign that touches many across campus who have been affected by breast cancer. This year the campaign raised over $15,782.26 for the Breast Cancer Cause at the Canadian Cancer Society (formerly the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation), making it an incredible 11-year total of $229,703.29 raised for the cause.
Rising star in psychological science Hilary Bergsieker
Congratulations to Hilary Bergsieker who was recently named by the Association for Psychological Sciences as a rising star in her field. The Rising Star designation recognizes outstanding psychological scientists in the earliest stages of their research career post-PhD whose innovative work has already advanced the field and signals great potential for their continued contributions.
Stuff the Warriors Van Toy Drive
University of Waterloo Athletics, in partnership with University of Waterloo Police, Parking Services, Community Relations and Events, and the Waterloo Regional Police, collected and donated 381 toys to under privileged children in Waterloo Region this Holiday Season. This was a tremendous outpouring of support from the entire University community.
Creating a unique holiday video one frame at a time
For the past several years the University of Waterloo President's annual holiday video message was produced to share good wishes for the season and New Year. Multimedia Design Manager, Matt Regehr took it once step further this year through a creatively nostalgic stop-motion animated video. The project was planned more than a year in advance and took more than a 100 hours to create. Matt has won awards for his video production and web design work, and was recognized by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) for his work with the university.
Finance department holiday fundraising for Food Bank of Waterloo Region
The Finance department's new social committee took initiative to raise funds for a good cause this holiday season. Some Finance team members visited Food Bank of Waterloo Region to make our donation in person. Through personal donations, a silent auction of baked goods and other events, over $1,500 was raised to share with the Food Bank that can provide more than 4,500 healthy meals to those in need this holiday season. Thank you to the Finance social committee for their time and extra effort on arranging this fun fundraising and thank you all who participated as well.