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January 2016

Hey Waterloo students - you do some pretty awesome things and we want to tell your stories of success. Help us bring your accomplishments (and those of your friends) to life. While you're here, read what other students are up to, share their stories and tell the world about the cool, smart and fun things Waterloo students do.

12 tips to get you through exams

Happy Holidays from the Student Success Office

T’was the season of exams and all throughout campus

Not a student was procrastinating, not even a bit.

The books and notes were stacked high across the tables,

In hopes that exams would go well and this term would be lit.   

Not to worry UWaterloo! We have you covered, with twelve tips to get you through exams and give your term a happy ending.

2016 Year End Wrap Up

year end wrap up image

December has begun, which means the year is beginning to wrap up. Exams are about to start, the weather has turned cold, and the prospect of a break from classes and assignments glimmers in the near future. To commemorate the closing of 2016, we are looking back on some of the awesome events that happened across campus in the past year.

Capturing the student life

Top 5 images

Top five submissions

Experiencing the beauty of Waterloo’s campus for the first time is something I will never forget, and for the UWaterloo students on exchange from around the world, it's something they can attest to.

Shattering expectations with entrepreneurship and Cisco Canada

Joyce Yu

Joyce Yu, a Waterloo co-op student and a member of the Cisco Women’s Entrepreneurs’ Circle.

Leading through mentorship and nurturing an atmosphere of “anything is possible” is what Cisco Canada and the University of Waterloo have created with the Women’s Entrepreneurs’ Circle program. This program is striving to make gender equality in STEM fields a reality and is a part of the University’s IMPACT 10x10x10 initiative. Joyce Yu, a member of the Circle, sees the mentorship as an opportunity to grow and gain experience in her field, while being bold and fearless in pursuing her goals.

Get to know the SSO: Peer Success Coaching

Peer Success Coaches

Peer Success Coaches for Fall 2016

Being a student can be tough. Trying to juggle your school/ life responsibilities isn’t always easy, but the Student Success Office has Peer Success Coaching to make striking that balance a little better.

Hacking in: Portal edition

Hackathon participants

Students hard at work during the Portal Halloween Hackathon

If you could make navigating campus life easier for students at UWaterloo how would you do it? On Saturday, October 28, 48 students came together for the fourth annual Portal Hackathon, to tackle that question.

Heading up to the “Hill” with Zuhair Zaidi

Zuhair and Prime Minister Trudeau

Zuhair and Prime Minister Trudeau at Parliament Hill (photo courtesy of the Daily Bulletin)

Bringing the stage to life through lighting design

Chelsea Vanoverbeke

Chelsea Vanoverbeke, the lighting designer for Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice

A single spotlight shines bright and draws your attention to the action happening at center stage. It has been carefully designed to draw you into the scene as Chelsea Vanoverbeke, a fourth year Joint Honours Student in Theatre and Performance can attest.  Chelsea is the associate lighting designer for Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice, where she works to bring the play to life through light.

Designing her future: One student’s experience in the Theatre and Performance program

Sandy Thi helping out behind the scenes at a shoot.

Sandy doing behind the scenes costume touch-ups during an evening shoot.

Costumes, design and the theatre are what Sandy Thi, a fourth year Honours Theatre and Performance major, has experienced in her years at Waterloo. Her love of theatre started in high school as a hobby and soon became her passion.

Encouraging passion with STEM and the HeForShe IMPACT scholarship

Anjali Joshi

Anjali Joshi, one of six winners of the HeForShe IMPACT scholarship. (Photo courtesy of the University of Waterloo)

With a passion and love for engineering, Anjali Joshi, a first-year Mechanical Engineering student, found it an easy choice to pursue a STEM degree at the University of Waterloo. Anjali is one of the six recipients of the 2016 HeForShe IMPACT scholarship, which is a part of the University of Waterloo’s IMPACT 10x10x10 initiative to advance gender equality.

Building community in STEM through the HeForShe IMPACT scholarship

Ankita Mishra

Ankita Mishra, one of the 6 winners of the HeForShe IMPACT scholarship (Photo courtesy of the University of Waterloo)

Curiosity and a thirst for knowledge is what caused first year student, Ankita Mishra, to pursue a Computer Science degree at the University of Waterloo. Ankita is one of the six recipients of the 2016 HeForShe IMPACT scholarship, which is a part of the University of Waterloo’s IMPACT 10x10x10 initiative to advance gender equality.

HeForShe IMPACT Scholarship recipient on her journey to STEM

Emily Carlson

Emily Carlson, one of the 6 winners of the HeForShe IMPACT scholarship (Photo courtesy of the University of Waterloo)

A desire to discover and learn was what led Emily Carlson, a first year Mathematical Physics student to the University of Waterloo.  Emily is one of the six recipients of the 2016 HeForShe IMPACT scholarship, which is a part of the University of Waterloo’s IMPACT 10x10x10 initiative to advance gender equality.

Taking the wheel: One student’s path to Engineering at UWaterloo

Matthew Rose working on car

Matthew working on the team car at the electric car race at UWaterloo

​Picking a university program isn’t always easy, but when you follow what you love it makes choosing that much easier. For students like Matthew Rose, a first year in Mechatronics Engineering  and a graduate of Bluevale Collegiate Institute, his involvement in his high schools’ Electric Car Club was a chance to pursue his passion and get first-hand experience in his future career.

UWaterloo student speaks at HeForShe anniversary event in New York

HeForShe is the UN solidarity movement that promotes the need for gender equality in todays world. The Writing Centre is hosting a writing contest as a part of University’s commitment to HeForShe IMPACT10x10x10 initiative. Make sure to submit your poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction by the October 14 deadline.	
This is the first in a series of features on the UWaterloo life blog the will be promoting HeForShe.
Anya Forestell

Anya speaking at the HeForShe event (Photo courtesy of @UWaterloo)

Not many people can say that they’ve had the opportunity to speak in front of an audience that included world leaders, celebrities, and CEOs but  Anya Forestell, a 2A Physics and Astronomy student, had the chance to do just that at the two year HeForShe anniversary event in New York City.

Landing the dream job: one student's experience working at Microsoft

Rhys Hollis

Rhys working on a video shoot

It’s that time of term again, when co-op interviews are in full swing. Main-round interviews start this week and anyone who’s ever applied for a job knows the nervous anticipation you get when you’re waiting to hear if you were selected for an interview. For Rhys Hollis, a second year Recreation and Leisure student, landing a job at Microsoft was a dream come true.

Welcoming new students: one SSO Orientation leader’s experience

Zehra Haque

Zehra proudly showcasing her Waterloo pride.

For most incoming students, Orientation is their first sense of what student life entails. For upper year students like Zehra Haque, Orientation  looks a little different: it's is about passing on the knowledge and enthusiasm they’ve gained since their first days on campus, and sharing what being a Waterloo Warrior means to them.

Get to know the SSO: Enhance your leadership skills with the Student Leadership Program

Students participate in workshop

During Student Leadership Program workshops, participants work individually and on teams to gain new skills and reinforce learning.

Marlena Books: bridging the gap between a love of reading and dementia

Rachel reading to her grandmother

Rachel reading to her grandmother

Seeing an opportunity and seizing it is one of the first steps to creating a successful entrepreneurial venture. For Rachel Thompson, a graduate from the faculty of Applied Health Sciences and alumna of St. Pauls’ GreenHouse, her leap into entrepreneurship began when her grandmother, a lover of books, was diagnosed with dementia.

Administering global health: Pharmacy student helps run free clinic in Lima, Peru

Heidi Fernandes administering medication to a patient

Heidi Fernandes administering medication to a patient

After witnessing the impoverished areas of Rio de Janeiro on a family vacation, Heidi Fernandes had a desire to help those in need.

Pharmacy student helps provide care to new Syrian refugees

Danyah Musbah Portrait

According to the Government of Canada website, the nation has welcomed more than 29,970 Syrian refugees since November of 2015. Canada’s refugee resettlement efforts are still ongoing, and more asylum seekers are being welcomed every day.

Recent mathematics alumnus recognized for his outstanding research

Jimmy He portrait

Every year, the Jessie W.H. Zou Memorial Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research is presented to an exceptional student enrolled in their final year of any program within the faculty of Mathematics. In order to qualify for the award, the student needs to conduct significant research within their field and be nominated by their supervisor.

Master of Development Practice student spends semester with the United Nations

Vidya Nair at work
As part of the Master of Development Practice (MDP) program, students are required to complete an internship within the field of development either in Canada or abroad. Having worked in Southeast Asia in the past, MDP candidate Vidya Nair, was eager to return.

Co-op student single-handedly lands her dream job

Some people spend their entire lives trying to find their true passion, but Kinesiology student, Hilary Lam, knew exactly what she wanted to do since the very beginning of her undergraduate career.

Hilary Lam

Hilary says that she realized her passion for forensic investigation on the first day of her 2B term.

Waterloo PhD student spends a week with Nobel Laureates in Lindau, Germany

Jean-Philippe MacLean at the IQC

The annual Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting brings together some of the brightest minds on the planet. Every year since 1951, a few dozen Nobel Laureates convene in Lindau, Germany to meet with a new generation of scientists. This year, 29 Nobel Laureates met with 400 young scientists from more than 80 countries around the world. Among those in attendance was Waterloo’s own, Jean-Philippe MacLean – a PhD student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC).

Innovative startup to make a difference for bedridden patients

Photo of the Curatio team - Moazam Khan, Matthew Sefati, and Zied EtlebPressure ulcers, better known as, bedsores, are the number one hospital-induced illness. The problem affects a quarter of all patients in North America, and contributes to nearly 60,000 deaths every year.

Waterloo student awarded prestigious Ontario Pharmacist Association Student of Distinction Award

Each year, the Ontario Pharmacist Association (OPA) Student of Distinction Award recognizes one exceptional student province-wide. Waterloo’s very own Jenn MacKenzie, a fourth-year Pharmacy student, took home the accolade for 2016.

Jen MacKenzie


Waterloo graduate student wins prestigious W.G. Weston award for Northern Research

Casey Remmer in front of a helicopterAs a Biology graduate student, Casey Remmer has an inherent passion for understanding and preserving our environment. That passion, coupled with a commitment to wetland preservation and outstanding scholarship, made her the perfect candidate for a W.G. Garfield Weston Award: a $15,000 accolade recognizing outstanding northern research in universities across Canada. 

A determined Rwandan student finds his passion at Waterloo

Gloire Gatabzi


Growing up as an urban refugee in Nairobi, Kenya, Gloire Gatabzi knew that education was his biggest hope. Born in Rwanda during the Civil War, Gloire’s family fled to Kenya when he was just a child. They lived in one room, scraping by with the little money his mother made sewing clothes. Now in his 3A term, Gloire has come a long way to study at Waterloo. 

Waterloo's latest Engineering grads take capstone judges for a ride

 Prof. Denis Beaulieu (Laval (retired)), James St Onge, Graeme Milligan, Stephen Phillips, and Prof. Charles Darwin Annan

Left to right: Professor Denis Beaulieu, James St Onge, Graeme Milligan, Stephen Phillips, and Professor Charles Darwin Annan

Every year, engineering students from across da face-off in the ultimate structural design challenge. This year’s competition, hosted by the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (CSCE) annual conference in London, Ontario, invited Canadian universities to submit one capstone design project for consideration. Out of 39 talented design teams, University of Waterloo selected “Four Flags Amusement” to represent Warriors on the CSCE stage.

Nanotech gardening startup takes root 

Most novel applications of nanotechnology tend to revolve around the fields of medicine or micro-robotics, leaving other fields largely unexplored. Recent Nanotech Engineering alumna Sonya Wach set out to change that by revolutionizing our approach to gardening.

Sonya Wach with the first prototype batch

Nanotech Engineering students show that size matters

Ready to face some of the best university teams from Romania, India, and the United States, UWaterloo’s own Nanotech Engineering students took the 2016 Mobile Microrobotics Challenge. After packing up their trusted microbot, the team made the journey to Sweden, where they competed in tests of autonomy, accuracy and assembly. Members of the UW_NRG team around their equipment

Co-directors prepare to take MOTUS II to the stage

Motus PosterMOTUS (noun): movement, passion, progress. By definition, MOTUS perfectly encompasses what two recent grads have set out to deliver after graduating from the Fine Arts program.

Our 3MT champion: PhD student took on Canada and brings back gold

GJ Won is the first UW student to with the 3MT competition With just 180 seconds on the clock, Gah-Jone Won, a PhD candidate at the School of Optometry and Vision Science, set out to distill his 200-page thesis. With six seconds to spare, Won became the first University of Waterloo student to walk away with the national 3-Minute Thesis title and $1,500 in prize money. 

Cleaning up what’s left after a war

During the Vietnam War, fighters dropped more than 400,000 tons of sub-munitions over the country. Today much land remains dangerous to farm 
and civilians continue to be injured from unexploded ordnance. Since the war ended in 1975, more than 100,000 people have been maimed or killed by unexploded bombs and landmines. This all kept Mary Crawford very busy during her internship in Quang Tri.Mary Crawford in Hanoi

Architecture grad sews together new and old in historic Old Delhi

Growing up in Delhi, Kanika Kaushal was drawn to the distinct buildings and neighbourhoods of the Old City. There she discovered a sense of community that differed from other places she’d visited. In Old Delhi, generations of residents live in ageing structures in very close quarters. Yet the walled colonial space has seen a major transition over the past few decades.Silhouette of Kanika at Queens Mosque

GSA exec takes the UW Swing Club to new heights

Many students pursue a graduate degree immediately after finishing their Bachelor’s. Equipped with his Honours Earth Science degree and a commercial pilot’s licence, however, Max Salman headed straight for the skies. As a geophysics surveyor, he spent months over the Amazon in Guyana and the United States, working for several high-profile clients. Salman then headed to Nunavut, Norway, Greenland and Iceland, flying low enough to see herds of muskox below the aircraft.

Max sitting in cockpit, flying plane

Recent alumna sets out to change the game

Laura Morrison on the Social Impact Showcase stage

Laura Morrison has long been passionate about preventing sexual assault and challenging rape culture. Over the last couple of years, the Recreation and Leisure Studies student (now alumna), set out to raise awareness and explore ways to prevent sexual violence in athletic organizations.

Fine Artist shows the struggle of building a home in latest installation

Visitors looking at Akkermans' installationIn the summer of 2014, Jennifer Akkermans packed up everything she owned and made the long move from Calgary to Waterloo. This move was not an easy one for the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) candidate.

Optometry PhD student performs scholarship hat trick


Vivek Labhishetty, a PhD student, is on a mission to explore unanswered questions in the field of Vision Science. Inspired by his father, an optometrist himself, Vivek set out to become the best clinical optometrist he can be. His passion is reflected in his pursuits, including his latest research on children with myopia, commonly known as nearsightedness.

Waterloo students win international finance competition

Winners of the International Finance Competition

A student team from the School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) is all smiles as their victory marks the first Canadian team to win the prestigious CFA Institute Research Challenge, an annual competition that provides university students with hands-on mentoring and intensive training in financial analysis.

Student researchers tell their stories

The Storytellers

The students have become the masters

Award recipients

Have you ever thought about what distinguishes good teachers from bad ones? Teaching is an art and skill that requires hours of preparation, interpersonal awareness and constant tweaking. Given the tremendous skill required to engage learners, UWaterloo recognizes four outstanding student instructors each year.

Crème de la crème from six faculties go head to head in 3MT finals

University of Waterloo's Gah-Jone Won won first prize at the 2016 3MT Ontario provincial competition. Three minutes. Six faculties. One shot at fame. In the 3-Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, master’s and doctoral students have just three minutes and only one slide to present their graduate research. The pressure is intense.


Pokémaniacs prepare for battle of epic proportions

When it comes to epic battles of fantastical creatures, UW Pokémaniacs
know the ropes. With their recent winning streak against universities from across North America and around the world, the Feds club proves that Pokémon is much more than a simple online video game.

Pokemon battle

Ode to joy: Kara Park rocks Beethoven

She adjusts the bench. Sits down. Closes her eyes briefly. Takes a deep breath. Lifts both hands to the keyboard. No, this wasn't another hackathon. This was the UWaterloo Orchestra's second Concerto and Aria Competition.

Kara with UW orchestra

Shattering stigma with creativity

Stand up to Stigma booths in SLCWhen students put their talents towards a social good, the results may be monumental. On March 22, students from Stand Up to Stigma came together to spread awareness about mental health through a student art showcase. Dozens of students walking through the Student Life Centre had the chance to revel in these unique creations.

A duel for the ages

Marc in fencing duelIf you think about athletics, fencing is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. Yet for Marc Lo this dueling pastime is the only sport that matters. This month, the Computer Engineering student is gearing up for a contest of weaponry, black masks and uncompromising technique.

Grad students illuminate humankind’s most vital resource

Pieter observing in Arctic regionEach March, the United Nations celebrates World Water Day. This year, Waterloo celebrated the occasion by hosting its seventh annual water research conference, organized by the Water Institute and Laurier's Institute for Water Science. Along with a plethora of speakers, the conference featured a poster competition involving 51 graduate students from across southern Ontario.

Elven army? Almost, it’s the UWaterloo Archery club!

UWaterloo archers channeled their inner Lord of The Rings spirit, hitting the target at this year’s Inter-university Archery Tournament. At the end of March, the club travelled to the University of Toronto for the fifth annual Ontario-wide competition. Shooting 60 arrows each was no sweat for the UWaterloo teammates, and much like Robin Hood, the team aimed true, winning first place overall with 3,058 points. 

Women's recurve category shot

Pencil, paper and loving your body

KimmiAround the world and on campus, activists are constantly challenging the stereotype of what a model should look like. Kimberly Luu is the founder of body-positive figure drawing sessions at the Women’s Centre and a graduate student in the School of Public Health and Health Systems. Started in 2014, the aim of these events is to celebrate the human body in all of its diversity, and to cultivate a safe, fun, and creative space where all body types can be appreciated.

Hurtling between cities at 350km/hr - not fantasy

The Hyperloop is a train-like pod that rides on a cushion of air in a reduced pressure tube. It is capable of travelling several hundred miles per hour and is immune to weather, low-cost, self-powering and safe.
UWaterloo undergraduate students may just have the future of this technology in their hands.

Hyperloop design from UWaterloo

Six students at the peak of their co-op game

Each year, UWaterloo celebrates one student from each faculty for outstanding achievement in co-operative education. To be considered for one of the prestigious awards, a co-op student must go above and beyond their employers’ expectations, be involved with their community, maintain a high academic standing and contribute positively to the co-op program. Congratulations to this year's winners!

Co-op group shot

A picture of peace before the bombs

Lucy Wang's TimeFrom co-op to academic exchange, UWaterloo students have the opportunity to travel the world and share their experiences with us. Earlier this month, Waterloo International showcased 13 student photographers in a campus-wide competition for International Celebrations Week. The finalists displayed their artwork in the second-floor bridge connecting the Math and computing building (MC) and Davis Centre (DC). All afternoon, students and staff had the opportunity to evaluate the photo submissions and vote on their favourites.

The engineers strike again

UWaterloo’s engineering teams cleaned up at this month’s Canadian Engineering Competition (CEC). From March 3-6, engineering students from universities across the country went head to head at McGill University for prizes in design, consulting, reengineering, debate and communications. All four UWaterloo teams that competed brought back silver or gold medals, showcasing once again why Waterloo is one of the top engineering schools in Canada.Senior Design Team

Syde Chicks rule the roost at Portal Hackathon

Ever had an idea that would change student life at UWaterloo? Every year dozens of students strive to leave their mark on campus, including the competitors who vie to build a new widget for the student portal. This year, nearly 40 students gathered at the Portal Hackathon to put their skills and creativity to the test.​Syde Chicks holding hackathon prizes

Lights, camera, harmonize

The lights blind you, the crowd grows silent and months of preparation are all on the line. There are no instruments to drown out potential mistakes. Despite the pressure, UWaterloo's a cappella teams sang their way to international victory

A large acapella team performs on stage

Photo by Matthew Leandres

The curtain rises on three student productions

Out of the boxHave you ever wanted to direct a play? Have you ever dreamed about starring as the lead actor or working behind the scenes of a major production? This ain’t Broadway, but UWaterloo produces some excellent theatre.

She shoots, she scores..!

In 2015-16, she earned 20 points for her team with four goals in the regular hockey season. The UWaterloo athlete gave a whopping 16 assists this year and is ending her career at eighth place in Canada for assists. She is Kaitlyn McDonell, outgoing captain of UWaterloo’s women’s hockey team.

Kaitlyn McDonell

Renison don vlogs her way to mental health

Emma Roy

Remember how weird it was going back to live with your parents after being at university? Do you not know at times if you qualify as an adult? Finally there’s a video series for that.

Revolutionizing your wardrobe using bamboo

Ramdev with PrototypeYou might be pitching an idea on a co-op term. You might be hustling to make that exam on time. Whatever you’re doing, sweat stains are an annoyance for many people - and a nuisance that should have been eradicated long ago, according to Chanakya Ramdev. 

Changing the way students live

This UWaterloo team's proposal could change the way students and seniors live in Waterloo Region and beyond. Team winners holding cheque

Men’s victory at the Bonspiel

The men’s curling team has been sweeping the competition lately – in more ways than one.

Men's curling team

Making a global impact through dance, fashion and artistic design

Fashion for Change stage danceLong hours, persistent planning and undeniable passion are all in a day’s work for the members of Fashion for Change. Started in 2010, the Feds club’s mission is to provide the opportunity for students to express their artistic interests and talents through fundraising events showcasing fashion design, dance and much more. This mission is fulfilled through the hosting of their Annual Charity Fashion Show along with additional events such as coffeehouses and dance and modeling workshops.

Undergraduate teams win big at this year’s Ontario Engineering Competition

Senior teamLast month, UWaterloo hosted the 37th annual Ontario Engineering Competition (OEC). Dozens of our very own students went up against 16 other Ontario universities and emerged on top.


Creating change with a paddle

For Madeline Leblanc, advancing brain cancer research and preserving the memory of her friends are both done through the dip of paddle.

Madeline paddling on Welland canal

Preventing medical emergencies through vascular imaging

Over the ages improving human health has been one of our species' greatest achievements. It is also something which Robert Amelard aspires to during his PhD in systems design engineering.

Robert with imagine technology

Metis-Cree student digs through history to rebuild his life

Addicted, homeless and in trouble with the law. By the time Jesse Thistle was twenty his future seemed bleak. Now a mature student at UWaterloo, Jesse is thriving in his graduate program and is using his past to assert his future.

Jesse Thistle standing on Plains

Pharmacy students use candy to teach kids about medication safety

Who would have thought of using candy in a medical program? UWaterloo co-op students, of course!

Katie and Sarah presenting

Six students tackle climate change with the UN in Paris

Were you following the landmark UN Climate Change Conference in Paris last month? Six of our Environment students were there, representing UWaterloo and doing their part to create a better world for future generations.

UWaterloo COP21 delegates

Third year students hatch a plan for the future of the earth

Have you ever worked on a co-op term with other UWaterloo students? Did you ever see them go above and beyond? Michelle Wesolowski and Tania Casaluce are two such students, who both made an exceptional impression on their employer.

Michelle standing with colleagues

EngSoc President leaves mental health legacy on campus

Hannah on friendship benchOn paper, you are truly thriving. Yet on the inside, you struggle with depression so severe that your very existence is threatened. This is Hannah Gautreau’s story.

Student graces St. Paul's with six-foot-tall artwork

This art piece may be a tad too large to hang above your bed.Melissa Johns standing beside dream catcher art piece on wall