../Morning Post
Posted March 18 , 2010
Co-op Week Honours

Waterloo honours top students during national co-op week

WATERLOO - Canada's co-op pioneer, the University of Waterloo, will mark national co-operative education week by celebrating the academic and experiential achievements of its six top co-op students, including one who will also receive a provincial award.

Siaw Yun Poi, a third-year actuarial science student, will be given a Waterloo co-op student-of-the-year award during a national co-op week ceremony to take place March 24 at 10 a.m. in the William M. Tatham Centre for Co-operative Education & Career Services, room 2218.

The award recognizes Poi's achievements at Sun Life Financial, where she earned a reputation for original time-saving ideas for managing investments.

As well, she will receive a student-of-the-year award from Education at Work Ontario, an agency that advances co-op education and involves co-op educators working with more than 40,000 co-op students at 37 colleges and universities.

National co-operative education week, March 23 to 27, celebrates the steady growth of co-op education programs across the country. Students, employers and academic institutions have benefited from the co-op system since its launch at the University of Waterloo in 1957. Today, Waterloo now is home to the world's largest co-op program.

Across Canada, more than 80,000 university and college students are enrolled in co-op programs, which offer them the advantage of integrating theoretical knowledge and practical work experience.

"Co-operative education is regarded as an effective means to support employers in the labour force while providing students with unique and invaluable learning opportunities," said Peggy Jarvie, executive director of Co-operative Education and Career Services at Waterloo. "The accomplishments of our six students of the year are an exceptional testament to the value of co-op. They prove that co-op is not just a short-term employment solution; it's the best way to increase the overall value of post-secondary education while effectively preparing students for the working world. Their accomplishments have been nothing short of remarkable."

This year's recipients at Waterloo were chosen based on their 2009 work-term contributions, academic achievements, community involvement and overall contribution to co-operative education. In addition, two students were selected to represent the University of Waterloo both provincially and nationally for their achievements.

Winners of the co-op student-of-the-year are:

* Mathematics: Siaw Yun Poi - 3B actuarial science

Siaw Yun Poi left a strong impression on her employers as an actuarial assistant for Sun Life Financial. She worked for an investments portfolio management team on multiple projects that involved processing cash flows of private deals. Noticing it typically took more than one hour to process a single deal, Poi developed a new framework that shortened the turnaround time to five minutes. The tool also eliminated many common errors of previous models. She went on to help create more time-saving frameworks, including one for Sun Life Financial's United Kingdom portfolio. Her ideas were described as "sophisticated and original to the industry." Poi represented Waterloo in provincial and national co-op student-of-the-year contests. She won the Education at Work Ontario award and received an honourable mention from the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education.

* Applied Health Science - Roseanna Presutti - 3A health studies

As a clinical research assistant at Sunnybrook's Odette Cancer Centre, Roseanna Presutti was involved in the patient consultation process for palliative radiation therapy. She co-led a clinical trial involving radiotherapy patients with multiple distressing symptoms. She determined that non-radiation oncology health care - nutritional counselling or psychological intervention - was often more necessary than the surgery itself. She wrote about her results in the Journal of Pain Management. Presutti has since researched radiation in bone metastases and her findings have been shared with members of the International Bone Metastases Consensus Working Party. So far, she has authored and co-authored 17 book chapters and papers. Presutti represented Waterloo in provincial and national co-op student-of-the-year contests. She received an honourable mention from the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education.

* Arts: Lauren Theobalds - 3A drama, arts and business

Lauren Theobalds worked as an assistant to the development and outreach officer of Workman Arts, a not-for-profit professional arts company. Situating her love for theatre in a business environment, Theobalds assumed a significant role in the marketing and communications department of the company. She handled advertising and promotion of the company's annual Rendezvous with Madness film festival and increased attendance by more than 46 per cent. Theobalds assisted in representing the company to the Toronto District School Board. She also worked to increase youth enrolment in the arts program. Bringing in numbers the company never seen before, Lauren's employers described her work as "truly outstanding."

* Engineering - Tewodros Mamo - 4B nanotechnology engineering

Harvard Medical School hired their first co-op student, Tewodros Mamo, for a two-term position as a nanomedicine intern in January 2009. With both a science and engineering background, Mamo was involved in designing targeted nanoparticle systems for gene and drug delivery. He and his team produced results consistent with the current consensus of top biotechnology companies by proving that nanoparticles show great promise in the therapeutic treatment of cancer and other diseases. He wrote a review article on his research and design, which is to be published in the journal Nanomedicine. As a result of Mamo's successful work terms, Harvard is hiring eight more co-op students.

* Environment - Sameer Shah - 3A environment and resource studies

The Royal Bank of Canada hired Sameer Shah as an environmental project management intern last spring to green the company. As co-leader of a pilot program that aimed to reduce RBC's operational footprint, Shah helped the company eliminate waste through vendor consolidation. RBC reduced its footprint by 25,000 tonnes and saved almost $500,000. He also helped create a North American-wide energy consumption portfolio so the entire RBC operation could implement energy-saving ideas. Shah contributed to the overall corporate social responsibility platform of RBC, including such philanthropic events as the RBC Procurement Multiple Sclerosis Charity Golf Tournament.

* Science - Stephanie Dobson - 4B biochemistry

At the Princess Margaret Hospital, Stephanie Dobson worked as a research assistant in a stem cell research laboratory. With a specific focus on leukemia and colon cancer, she identified potential genes affected by the insertion of a retrovirus in test subjects. Her team hypothesized that the integration sites of the retrovirus may be linked to the development of leukemia. The countless hours in the lab and analyzing statistics paid off - Dobson confirmed 44 unique insertions. Her results were presented at the Gordon Research Conference for Stem Cells in Switzerland. She also received an award for a presentation she gave at the Toronto General Research Institute.

In just half a century, the University of Waterloo, located at the heart of Canada's Technology Triangle, has become one of Canada's leading comprehensive universities with 30,000 full- and part-time students in undergraduate and graduate programs. Waterloo, as home to the world's largest post-secondary co-operative education program, embraces its connections to the world and encourages enterprising partnerships in learning, research and discovery. In the next decade, the university is committed to building a better future for Canada and the world by championing innovation and collaboration to create solutions relevant to the needs of today and tomorrow. For further details, visit www.uwaterloo.ca.

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