University of Waterloo Recognizes 2020’s Co-op Student of the Year Award Recipients

By: Kw Now Local News - U of W News
| Published 03/18/2021

University of Waterloo Exceptional 2020 Co-op Students Recognized
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University of Waterloo Exceptional 2020 Co-op Students Recognized

'Waterloo’s 2020 co-op students shine in unprecedented year.'

From making a difference in important non-profit organizations to being a part of COVID-19 trials, University of Waterloo’s co-op students shone throughout a challenging and unprecedented 2020.

They excelled – both digitally and in-person – as the pandemic hit in March 2020.

Co-operative and Experiential Education (CEE) is honouring six standout students for exceptional work terms.

“It’s been a uniquely challenging year for many of our students, and it’s exciting to have the opportunity to recognize our Co-op Student of the Year and Problem Lab award winners,” says Norah McRae, associate provost of CEE. “This group of remarkable winners exemplify how quality work-integrated learning experiences can help students develop the skills they need to be adaptable, resilient, and ready for their future careers.”

Faculty of Science Co-op Student of the Year and Education at Work Ontario (EWO) Co-op Student of the Year, Omar Hajjaj, excelled during his co-op term at the Sunnybrook Health Science Centre. Hajjaj was part of one of the largest COVID-19 plasma trials and produced an important automated matrix to track blood samples. He successfully coded the largest transfusion database, decreasing the time for data analysis by 456 per cent.

“It is a great validating experience,” Hajjaj says. “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.”

Omar Hajjaj is joined by the following students as Waterloo’s 2020 Co-op Students of the Year:

Jonathan Lee – Arts

As an associate for consulting firm Daisy Group, Lee obtained his lobby registration and represented clients in the renaming of Swastika Trail in Puslinch, Ontario.

Rupa Vemulapalli – Engineering

During his stint as a junior energy analyst for Rushby Energy Solutions Inc. Vemulapalli created a prototype for a soon-to-be-available iOS app that will assist electric vehicle suppliers to quantify long-term gains.

Brad Bruder – Environment

Working at Habitat for Humanity as a senior manager of planning and development, Bruder assisted in moving 18 families into their new home during the pandemic. He also led a team in the delivery of more than 600 affordable housing units for Habitat for Humanity, which included a $250M partnership with the City of Mississauga.

Emily Lam – Health

As a clinical research assistant at Sunnybrook Health Science Centre, Liam assisted in clinical trials of patients with their breast cancer treatments. Liam, who was a nominee for the EWO Student of the Year award,findings from investigating the impact of pain in over 400 patients receiving breast radiation therapy were published in the peer-reviewed journal Supportive Care in Cancer.

Ryan Goldford – Mathematics

During his time at Sun Life Financial Goldford helped achieve efficiency for his department by preparing a 50-page onboarding guide for incoming students. As an actuarial analyst, he also automated capital remote reporting templates.

“It’s been a uniquely challenging year for many of our students, and it’s exciting to have the opportunity to recognize our Co-op Student of the Year winners,” says Norah McRae, associate provost of Co-operative and Experience Education. “This group of remarkable winners exemplify how quality work-integrated learning experiences can help students develop the skills they need to be adaptable, resilient, and ready for their future careers.”

Co-operative and Experience Education holds its first-ever virtual Co-op Student of the Year ceremony on March 23, 2021.