For graduating students, convocation is a significant milestone, a time to celebrate their accomplishments in front of family and friends. Each year, students are nominated by peers to represent their class during convocation. The position of valedictorian is an honoured one, reflecting an individual who has led an active post-secondary career, both academically and socially.

Meet our 2019 valedictorians:

FACULTY OF APPLIED HEALTH SCIENCES

David C. Uponi

David C. Uponi

David C. Uponi is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Honours Recreation and Sport Business with a minor in Entrepreneurship from the University of Waterloo. Uponi began his undergraduate career as a member of the men’s basketball team. Competing at this level solidified his passion for sport and drove him to establish the Waterloo Sports Business Association. From there, Uponi remained very involved on campus, as he chaired the Applied Health Sciences Endowment Fund and volunteered with the Waterloo Federation of Students. Uponi has worked in several industries through Waterloo’s co-op program. He has worked at companies like Microsoft and Deloitte and in both the public and non-profit sectors as a planner, coach and organizer. Uponi is moving to Calgary, the city he calls home, to work as a management consultant. He hopes to use the experiences he gained at Waterloo to positively impact individuals and organizations across Canada.

FACULTY OF ARTS

Amadreo Cortes

Amandreo Cortes

Amandreo Cortes is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Global Business and Digital Arts. As a design student, he always strives to translate ideas into powerful experiences and has, in many ways, designed his last four years filled with meaningful engagements and community. He immersed himself in many areas of campus life, including St. Jerome’s University (SJU) and the Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business. His curiosity pushed him to serve roles as vice-president of SJU Students’ Union, founder and chairperson of the Oscar Romero Social Committee, Stratford FEDS Councillor and a teaching assistant. Cortes gained international experience when he participated in the SJU in Peru initiative and studied abroad at the National University of Singapore. Cortes is a proud recipient of the Bishop Reding scholarship (SJU) and the University Life Award. He is also placed first in the CIBC Innovation Week competition. Cortes credits his success to his many mentors and peers. His fourth-year capstone projects include Openbook, an online platform that provides a safe space for peer support, and EverNest, a web app that provides financial guidance to new and expecting parents.
 
 

Stavros Stavroulias

Stavros Stavroulias

Stavros Stavroulias is excited to be graduating with a Joint Honours bachelor’s degree in Speech Communication and Medieval Studies with a minor in Classical Studies. Early in his academic journey he presented a research paper at the International Congress on Medieval Studies about how the role of the Queen has changed from medieval to modern chess (spoiler: she only used to be allowed to move one space diagonally). This experience pushed him to pursue more both inside and outside of the classroom. Throughout his experiences at Waterloo, he has met some amazing friends and mentors he now considers family, without whom he would not have been able to succeed. He has met some of these people through his studies, but even more so through extra-curricular activities including his time as a campus ambassador, executive member in the Arts Student Union and residence life don. These roles are how he believes he will be remembered at Waterloo, and since being a part of these teams has helped him so much, Stavroulias encourages other students to venture out of their comfort zones and try new experiences.
 
 

Jacqueline Sue

Jacqueline Sue

With a passion for service leadership and empowering student learning, Jacqueline Sue set out to dedicate her undergrad career to accomplish just that. Sue received the Accounting and Finance Student Association Community Leadership Award in recognition of her efforts in taking ACE Consulting Group to new heights — supporting various pro bono engagements for the startup community in the Region of Waterloo and the greater Toronto area. Sue set out to be a changemaker within the School of Accounting and Finance by developing the foundation for the University of Waterloo Student Venture Fund and through her role as a founder of the School of Accounting and Finance Business Strategy Case Competition. Her interests in promoting education across international borders through her involvement in Hack the North as their finance director. Sue is graduating with a Bachelor of Accounting and Financial Management and a minor in Human Resources Management.

FACULTY OF ENGINEERING

Sabrina Renna

Sabrina Renna

Sabrina Renna is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering. A first-in-family student to a non-English speaking household, she believes that an education in STEM should be in everyone’s reach. In 2011, she was elected student trustee for the Toronto Catholic District School Board representing the needs of 90,000 students. Inspired by her brief political experience, she quickly pivoted into engineering, citing the ability to interpret technical results correctly as integral to shaping an informed society. Although not without academic challenge, she has built a reputable and extensive network in her field with recognition as an outstanding intern by all her previous employers. Renna credits Waterloo’s co-op program as a tool for upward social mobility allowing her to finance her entire degree and graduate debt-free. Now a resourceful engineer-in-training, she avidly enjoys solving technical problems by leveraging both engineering heuristics and interpersonal skills alike.
 

Blakelock Brown

Blakelock Brown

Blakelock Brown is the classic example of an underdog who never gave up. Faced with poor grades in his first year and a single co-op interview, his unfaltering determination is what enabled him to grow. With hard work and determination, he brought his average up thirty per cent and was able to maintain his newly found excellent standing. His class elected him as an academic representative and he ran practice exams for physics and math. Brown eventually achieved his dreams of traveling the world through three internships in California, one internship in New York and a semester abroad studying at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Brown is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering and will be joining Facebook located in Menlo Park.
 

FACULTY OF ENVIRONMENT

Chantelle Young

Chantelle Young

Chantelle Young is graduating with an honours bachelor’s degree in Environment and Business with a minor in Speech Communication. Her dual-disciplinary degree fueled a growing excitement for people and technology. Having her ideas and creations inspire others in a meaningful capacity is what motivates her. In her first year, Young served as president of the University of Waterloo Toastmasters Club to help guide students to become fearless public speakers. This sparked a bigger vision of community empowerment at co-op placements including Microsoft, Ritual and Formlabs. Microsoft helped propel her true passion for working with both people and products as she helped lead campaigns and events that inspired youth to innovate. After convocation, Young is looking forward to starting her new journey at Spotify. She is grateful for Waterloo's community of open hearts that helped shape her future.

FACULTY OF MATHEMATICS

David Li

David (Wang) Li

David Li is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Combinatorics and Optimization and Mathematical Finance with a minor in Speech Communication. Driven by his exploratory nature, Li switched into the co-op program during his first year to accumulate work experience. Over the next six work terms, he worked all over North America and Europe, holding vastly different positions in companies ranging from a highly-regulated international commercial bank to a newly-founded startup focusing on utilizing new technology. Outside of school and co-op, Li’s interests revolve around people. Throughout his degree, Li took positions in a large variety of societies and clubs focusing on topics including academics, music, sports, fantasy stories, cooking and community building. Through his experiences, Li sought to empower his fellow students and focused his energy on establishing connections between people. Post-graduation, Li will continue his education at the University of Southern California for a Master’s in Analytics.
 

Jenny Sun

Jenny Sun

Jenny Sun is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in the Honours Computer Science co-op program with an option in Business. Passionate about supporting diversity within STEM, Sun joined the Women in Computer Science committee in her first year. While on the committee, Sun organized a number of career-building, networking and social events for undergrad female students in the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science. In her last few years at Waterloo, Sun challenged herself with new opportunities and joined the University of Waterloo’s Blueprint as a software developer mentor to build tech for non-profits and the Human-Computer Interaction Lab as an undergrad research assistant. Her research focused on exploring the anthropomorphism of conversational agents in casual settings. After graduation, Sun will be joining Facebook as a software engineer and hopes to continue promoting diversity within STEM.
 

FACULTY OF SCIENCE

Muzammil Taj

Muzammil Taj

Muzammil Taj is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Honours Science and Business, Biotechnology specialization, with a minor in Economics. Taj fully embraced student empowerment by becoming the vice-president of the Science and Business Students’ Association, sat on the Board of Directors of the Waterloo Science Endowment Fund, became the secretary of the Waterloo Space Society, as well as a teaching assistant for the Faculty of Science and strategy consultant at WatSolve. During his time as a co-op student, Taj presented cutting-edge technology trends on behalf of a startup accelerator and contributed to the province-wide marketing activities of the Ontario government. Most of all, Taj says he greatly appreciates the opportunity to have worked alongside the brilliant students and instructors of the Faculty of Science on both academic and extracurricular projects.
 

Samantha Fowler

Samantha Fowler

Samantha Fowler is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Honours Psychology (Science), with a minor in Biology. During her time at Waterloo, Fowler discovered her passion for education and talent for public speaking. Co-op jobs at TRIUMF, Canada’s particle accelerator center and Let’s Talk Science led her to explore the power of communication to strengthen a community and embracing different ways of empowering people to connect with the world. Fowler was deeply ingrained in the University, participating with biology-supported learning groups, Science Outreach, the Science Ambassadors program and orientation week activities. In her final year, Fowler turned a long-time volunteer position into a contract at Campus Wellness, working as the peer health education coordinator to lead a team of volunteers to promote wellness across campus. This fall, Fowler will be pursuing a Master’s in Science Communication at Laurentian University.