2020 Co-op Award Winners Announced

Posted on Thursday, March 4th, 2021

Each year, Co-operative Education at the University of Guelph recognizes the success of Co-op Students and Employers with seven different awards. 

Every day from March 14th - 20th, we will be celebrating our 2020 Student & Employer Award recipients by sharing their stories and experiences via Instagram. Join the celebrations by following @ExpGuelph to hear the winners and their nominators share impactful stories about their work terms and the U of G co-op program.

The Co-op Student of the Year award recognizes excellence in a wide variety of student achievements including job and academic performance, contributions to their employer, to Co-operative Education, and to the community at large. This year there were a total of 58 student nominations.

2020 Co-op Student of the Year Awards Winners:  

Jinal Manek is the recipient of the 2020 Co-op Student of the Year in Biological, Physical and Environmental Science

Jinal, who is in her final year of studies in the Microbiology Co-op program was nominated by Stephanie Kvas of Environment and Climate Change Canada. Jinal worked on a project assessing the effects of rare earth elements on the soil microbial community and assisted with a second project performing an International inter-laboratory study for one of their methods, where she distinguished herself through her exceptional organization and experiment preparedness skills. ″Jinal quickly adapted to the work environment and was quick to learn the new techniques. She was consistently able to handle multiple experiments at different stages and analyzing the results from these experiments″. She worked independently to complete her experiments and produced reliable and consistent results, helped her colleagues with their experiments and completed additional laboratory tasks including editing SOPs and completing lab inventories and, in the process, discovered her passion for working as a laboratory microbiologist researcher while helping the community. 

Megan McGrail is the recipient of the 2020 Co-op Student of the Year in Commerce, Applied Science and Arts. 

Megan is currently in her third year of the Public Management Co-op program and was nominated by Floyd Howard, her supervisor at Wanstead Farmers Co-operative. In her role as the Grain Marketing Co-ordinator, Megan was principal author of their Grain Marketing Commentaries, published three times daily. She created and maintained a Twitter account to alert followers to various grain stories and specific pricing opportunities and she managed the contract administration of the Identity Preserved Soybean Contract Program that enabled growers to fully understand their obligations and marketing opportunities. Megan developed and implemented a Summer Wheat Tour to all farmers who sold to the Co-op. This allowed for greater face to face interaction with their farm customer base, increased business generated from producers on the tour, and identified growers that represented the biggest growth opportunities for the Co-op. According to Floyd, ″the success of her Wheat Tour has led to our commitment to repeat it in the years to come″. 
Jessica Postma is the recipient of the 2020 Co-op Student of the Year in Engineering. 

Jessica is in her final year of studies in the Biomedical Engineering Co-op program and was nominated by Blair Josey with Johnson & Johnson Inc. Canada. ″Jessica has been a great addition to our External Manufacturing Quality team. She brings a bright and positive presence with strong capabilities to learn quickly, execute efficiently, with excellent attention to detail and the ability to prioritize, connect and collaborate effortlessly across a complex matrixed organization″. Jessica supported and facilitated Good Manufacturing Practices, worked with numerous large company management software packages, collaborated with various internal departments and External Manufacturers, and was entrusted with collecting quality metrics and leading metric review meetings. She demonstrated consistent team meeting engagement, proactive anticipation of areas in need of support, and effectively engaged other key business partners and assessed potential roadblocks to set efficient strategies in place, a ″big picture″ ability that was critical to her success in the role.
Nicholas Skoretz is the recipient of the 2020 Ian Pavlinic Memorial Award for Innovation Co-op Student of the Year in Computing

This award, established in 2018 by Tulip in honour and remembrance of exemplary Co-op student Ian Pavlinic, recognizes a Co-op student in the School of Computer Science who has demonstrated innovation, collaboration, and made a positive impact during their work term. Nick is in his final year of studies in the Software Engineering Co-op program. According to his nominator Joseph Bass of CaseWare International, Nick ″became a core member of the team and was instrumental in laying the groundwork for a monitoring solution that CaseWare and our customers around the world rely on daily″. He stepped into the role of coordinating and executing, almost single-handedly, this extremely complex project during the absence of the senior engineer lead. Nick coordinated two different work streams, infrastructure and application monitoring, working with multiple application development teams. He took over designing the monitoring architecture, implementing the solution and was the primary point of contact with the vendor. Nick also worked to test, troubleshoot and implement a new user authentication mechanism that was being developed and in doing so, became the first person in the world to implement this particular security solution with a major industry monitoring provider. 
Natalie Pagdiwala is the 2020 recipient of the Collin Cureatz Memorial Award for Co-op Student Involvement

This award is presented each year to a student who mirrors the outstanding qualities and talents that Collin possessed. Natalie, a Biochemistry Co-op student, significantly contributed to the University of Guelph through her involvement as a Career Services Peer Helper where she supported her fellow students in innovative ways that truly embody the spirit of this award. She participated in resume blitz events, facilitated workshops, and staffed the resume table at networking events. She demonstrated leadership and empathy when working one-to-one with students to provide support with their job search. She has been an active member of the Co-op Student Advisory Committee, participated on student panels for first year co-op students to share her experiences and offer advice, and volunteered to speak with prospective students and their families at Fall Preview Day. As a Senior Peer Helper, she coordinated street team outreach events to promote experiential learning initiatives to students and social events for the Peer Helper team to foster a sense of connection and togetherness during this time when students are studying and working remotely. Nominated by Brittney McManus, Coordinator, Student Programs and Lindsay Peddle, Co-op Coordinator, Natalie ″has truly been a standout student, positively representing Co-op, the Experiential Learning Hub, and the University of Guelph in so many ways″.

2020 Co-op Employer of the Year Awards:

Unitron Hearing (Sonova) is the recipient of the 2020 National Co-op Employer of the Year Award

Unitron Hearing (Sonova) was nominated by Biomedical Engineering Co-op student Alyssia Sanchez. A co-op employer for many years, Unitron Hearing (Sonova) provides students with valuable work experience and demonstrates outstanding mentorship by paring every co-op student with a mentor to facilitate onboarding and ensure students are comfortable in asking questions and seeking guidance. Alyssia had the opportunity to work with different high-level software development teams on various projects where she refined her communication, project management, problem solving and analytical skills.  She was encouraged by managers and team members to explore different areas of the company, use the machines and tools available for student projects and brainstorm methods to help innovate and optimize efficiencies in company processes. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, they continued to be supportive and accommodating by providing the option of working remotely. According to Alyssia, “the employee dynamic and work environment fostered at Unitron Hearing (Sonova) is exceptional and unparalleled” and allowed her to broaden her work experience in various areas and explore what she is passionate about. 

Wellington Brewery is the recipient of the 2020 Guelph Co-op Employer of the Year Award

Biological Engineering Co-op student Peter Zytner nominated Wellington Brewery for the impact his work term had on him as a student, employee, and soon-to-be engineer. In addition to his responsibilities as a Quality Control Technician, he was given the freedom to incorporate his own strengths and interests into the job description and find projects that would improve the brewery as a whole. Designing and deploying an automated temperature control unit for the small-scale pilot tank systems to allow for more reliable and accurate brewing of small batches was one such project. “This responsibility is something that I did not take for granted and feeling like an integral part of the team was an incredible learning experience”. Peter’s supervisors and co-workers supported his initiatives, learning and personal growth and were always willing to provide the tools and resources necessary to ensure his success.

Congratulations to all 2020 Co-op Student of the Year nominees:

  • Veronica Birk, Biomedical Engineering - STEMCELL Technologies Inc., Vancouver, BC 

  • Emma Blunt, Psychology - Alectra Utilities, Guelph, ON

  • Riley Boadway, Psychology - Toronto Waldorf School, Thornhill, ON

  • Gagandeep Chopra, Mechanical Engineering - PepsiCo Foods Canada, Cambridge, ON 

  • Ben Colcuc, Mechanical Engineering - Penta Equipment Inc., Thamesville, ON 

  • Danielle Dales, Biological Engineering - Maple Leaf Foods Inc., Mississauga, ON 

  • Shannon Davis, Marketing Management - Sparkling Hill Resort, Vernon, BC

  • Elizabeth Diederichs, Biomedical Engineering - Department of Systems Design Engineering, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON 

  • Jason Ellul, Software Engineering - Tag Digital Studios Inc., Guelph, ON

  • Aidan Ennis, Management Economics & Finance - GoodLeaf Farms, Guelph, ON

  • Yannick Espiegle, Computer Engineering - TD Bank, Toronto, ON 

  • Emma Evenden, Marketing Management - McLaughlin Library, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON 

  • Bryn Ferris, Biomedical Engineering - Smarter Alloys, Waterloo, ON 

  • Peyton Fewkes, Marketing Management - Royal LePage Royal City Realty, Guelph, ON 

  • Elijah Garrett, Mechanical Engineering - Roadtrek Inc., Cambridge, ON 

  • Zeyad Ghulam, Biomedical Engineering - College of Arts, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON

  • Emily Gibson, Food & Agricultural Business - Ontario Agricultural College Dean's Office, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON 

  • Alessandro Giuliano, Mechanical Engineering - Polycon Industries - Magna International, Guelph, ON 

  • Bryn Hafer, Accounting - Innovo Professional Corporation, Oakville, ON 

  • Melissa Hardy, Environmental Engineering - WSP Canada, Aurora, ON 

  • William Hawkins, Mathematical Economics - Computing and Communications Services, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON 

  • Kayla Higgins, Environmental Sciences - Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Downsview, ON

  • Colin Hobson, Marketing Management - Suncoat Products Inc., Guelph, ON

  • Samantha Hunter, Psychology - PCT Power Cheer and Tumble, Mississauga, ON

  • Nolan Jarv, Mechanical Engineering - Polycon Industries − Magna International, Guelph, ON 

  • Erica Johncox, Biomedical Toxicology - Conestoga Meat Packers Ltd., Breslau, ON

  • Celina Kuczynski, Biomedical Engineering - TerrAscend Canada Inc., Mississauga, ON 

  • Andrea Lappage, Marketing Management - Sun Life Financial, Waterloo, ON 

  • Sydney Lepard, Biomedical Engineering - National Research Council of Canada, Boucherville, Quebec

  • Benjamin Lewis, Marketing Management - Nusite Contractors Ltd., North York, ON 

  • Camille Lin, Biomedical Toxicology - Maple Leaf Foods Inc., Mississauga, ON 

  • William Ly, Accounting - BMO Financial Group, Toronto, ON 

  • Keely-Shay Maki, Biomedical Engineering - NutriAg Ltd., Toronto, ON 

  • Zion Maynard, Biomedical Engineering - Ink Smith Ltd., Waterloo, ON

  • Vanessa McAlister, Psychology - United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin, Guelph, ON 

  • Parth Miglani, Software Engineering - Manulife Financial Corporation, Toronto, ON 

  • Lawrence Milne, Computer Science - BlackBerry Limited, Waterloo, ON

  • Lili-Anna Morin, Hospitality & Tourism Management - Coast Hotels, Jasper, AB 

  • Destinee Muir, Biomedical Engineering − Sonova, Kitchener, ON 

  • Nathan Muir-Cressman, Management Economics & Finance - Government of Yukon, Whitehorse, Yukon 

  • Patricia Munroe, Accounting - Priddle-Luck Thibeault LLP, Sault Ste. Marie, ON 

  • Jason Nguyen, Computer Science - School of Computer Science, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON 

  • Julia Poleto, Biomedical Engineering - Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Toronto, ON 

  • Matthew Roffel, Computer Engineering - Geotab Inc., Oakville, ON 

  • Jenna Rotondi, Biomedical Engineering - Envision SQ Inc., Guelph, ON 

  • Lilian Shi, Computer Science - School of Computer Science, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON 

  • Victoria Stepnowski, Accounting - Racolta Jensen LLP, Cambridge, ON

  • Stewart Thomson, Computer Science - Adknown Inc., Guelph, ON

  • Lucian Tranc, Computer Science − Communitech, Kitchener, ON 

  • Sarah Trilesky, Biochemistry - Department of Biochemistry & Biomedical Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON 

  • Sarah Van Heyst, Environmental Engineering - Dillon Consulting Limited, Halifax, NS

  • Chris VanDoodewaard, Software Engineering - Artic Wolf Networks Inc., Waterloo, ON 

  • Rory Wanvig, Marketing Management - CGI Inc., Markham, ON 

  • Toygar Yildirim, Marketing Management - Ippolito Fruit & Produce, Burlington, ON


Congratulations to all Nominees for Co-op Employer of the Year 2020:

  • AGNORA, Collingwood, ON

  • College of Social and Applied Human Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON

  • Computing and Communications Services, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON

  • Guelph Food Innovation Centre, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON

  • Ink Smith Ltd., Waterloo, ON

  • Johnson & Johnson Inc. Canada, Guelph, ON

  • Life Care Edinburgh Pharmacy, Guelph, ON

  • Loblaw Companies Limited, Brampton, ON

  • Mattamy Homes, Milton, ON

  • PepsiCo Foods Canada, Cambridge, ON

  • REVXM Inc., Toronto, ON

  • STEMCELL Technologies Inc., Vancouver, BC

  • Veal Farmers of Ontario, Guelph, ON

  • Vena Medical, Kitchener, ON

  • V. Mance Manufacturing Ltd., Guelph, ON


Congratulations to all of the 2020 Co-op Award winners and nominees. 

Student and Employer nominations are now being accepted for this semester (Winter 2021 work term).  Submit your nomination package by April 30th, 2021 to be considered for the 2021 Co-op Awards.  Students can also nominate a fellow co-op student for the Collin Cureatz Memorial Award for Student Involvement.  Visit our website for award information and nomination forms.