Coop Student of the Year Awards Announced

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Congratulations to Omar Hajjaj, a Biology student at the University of Waterloo, who has been awarded the Experiential and Work-Integrated Learning Ontario (EWO) Coop Student of the Year award! Omar has also won the Waterloo's Faculty of Science Coop Student of the Year Award, as well as named one of four University of Waterloo Co-op Problem Award winners for 2020!

Omar Hajjaj

Hajjaj, a fourth-year student, excelled during his eight-month work term at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre which began in Winter 2020.

In a time when clinical trials were perhaps at the peak of their importance, a Hajjaj was playing a vital role, as a blood transfusion medicine research assistant.  

From playing a role in COVID-19 clinical trials to having a chance to coordinate some on his own, Hajjaj’s co-op experience paves the way for a bright future in research.

“I really got to explore every facet of research during my co-op term there and it spans from government clinical trials, to even starting up some of my own smaller research projects and see them to the end,” Hajjaj says.

During his work term, Hajjaj was part of the first COVID-19 trial in Ontario to enroll a patient to receive an investigational product.

“I think it’s a personal experience that you don’t get often in research,” Hajjaj says.

Alongside the COVID-19 trial, Hajjaj also produced an automated matrix of 826 blood samples, by “outlining locations and specimen details.”

He also held responsibility for coordinating four government-funded clinical trials while working at six different hospitals in the GTA.

Hajjaj, who has completed all his work terms in research – including three at Sunnybrook – credits his co-op experiences for helping determine his future professional aspirations. Meanwhile, he says his work term helped him understand the importance of building relationships and connections with colleagues.

Hajjaj was also named a University of Waterloo Co-op Problem Award winner for 2020 and is nominated for CEWIL (Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning) Canada’s Student of the Year Award as well as EWO’s (Education at Work Ontario) Co-op Student of the Year Award.

“It is a great validating experience," says Hajjaj. "I owe a lot of it to my employers who helped foster such an opportunistic work environment, where I got to explore different avenues of research, and kind of take my own path in something that interests me. I have a lot of mentors to thank as well, and I really am grateful for co-op."

Celine HuabWe would also like to congratulation the Faculty of Science's runner up for the coop student of the year, Celine Huab!

Huab is a pharmacy student, and completed her Fall 2020 work term with Northwest Telepharmacy Solutions, a company that aims to address the significant shortage of pharmacists for hospitals in remote communities within Canada.

During her work term, Huab focused on improving healthcare for Indigenous people in the remote communities of Moose Factory and Moosonee, Ontario.

Through her work gathering information about patients from their care teams, and presenting this information to remote pharmacisits, Huab was able to significantly improve the health of more patients, while maximizing the safety of their medications.