2018 Co-op Students of the Year

Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, Social Sciences, Engineering, Co-op

- Mollie Green

Meet the 2018 Co-op students of the year

From supporting Syrian refugees’ arrival to Victoria, to curating interactive exhibits and identifying opportunities in the labour market, this year’s UVic Co-op Students of the Year are positive change makers. Each student was recognized by their co-operative education programs for their meaningful and outstanding contribution to multiple areas of their life including class, the workplace and the greater community.

Andres Agresot (business)

Co-op Student of the Year—Business Co-op Programs

Commerce student Andres Agresot believes in the power of connections. As an international student from Colombia, he embraced every opportunity to become an active member of his community within the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business.

Agresot has also volunteered as business advisor for UVic’s Submarine Racing Club and was part of the team that represented the university at the 2018 European International Submarine Races in the United Kingdom.

Recently, Agresot found another connecting role during his co-op work term at Babcock Canada. As a marketing/human resources co-op student, Agresot was charged with leading Babcock’s STEM strategy, as well as identifying gaps in the current Victoria engineering labour market.

“Andres was a brand champion for Babcock, which was above and beyond what was expected for the role,” says his supervisor Steven Holmes, Manager of Human Resources. “Andres actively took it upon himself to get involved in projects and drive new initiatives.” This included helping to facilitate a meeting between Babcock’s President and UVic’s Dean of Engineering.

His work had a meaningful impact not only to the organization but also to Agresot. “I am certain that the achievements gained through co-op have significantly impacted multiple areas of my life,” says Agresot. “Co-op has created meaningful turning points in my academic experience, career development and personal growth.”

Anona Wiebe (electrical engineering)

Co-op Student of the Year—Engineering and Computer Science Co-op Programs

Anona Wiebe is always looking to make a positive impact. From helping University Systems develop a cybersecurity awareness program for students, to supporting Syrian refugees’ transition to Canada, the third-year engineering student has made a lasting impression.

Wiebe has a knack for linking human behaviour with systems design, making her the perfect candidate for her co-op position with University Systems, where she developed a unique online program to help students develop cybersecurity awareness. The resulting project has seen huge success; more than 2,000 students have accessed the online training since August.

Director of University Systems Nav Bassi, who acted as Anona's project sponsor and director, credits her hard work and technical skills for much of the project’s success. “Her efforts were so successful that we were able to develop a case to continue the program on an annual basis,” he says.

“This co-op gave me the opportunity to develop my career by showcasing and strengthening my leadership skills,” Wiebe says. “It’s piqued my interest in project management; I’m excited at what comes next.”

Outside of class and work, Wiebe is an active volunteer, splitting her spare time between coaching tennis and supporting Victoria’s efforts to welcome Syrian families to the city. She was also recently elected as an Engineering student representative to University Senate.

Hallie Rounthwaite (anthropology and human dimensions of climate change)

Co-op Student of the Year—Optional and Professional Co-op Programs

As a fourth-year student of anthropology and human dimensions of climate change, Hallie Rounthwaite is passionate about the intersection between culture and community. On top of having an impressive 8.5 GPA, Rounthwaite has been actively engaged in Victoria’s “Good Food Summit,” a knowledge-sharing initiative focused on good food work in the Capital Region. She also recently curated and developed an interactive exhibit that connected archaeology with modern food sharing practices at the Royal BC Museum, as part of a project with her archaeology and storytelling class. (That project appears on the RBCM learning portal at bit.ly/RBCM-spoon.)

For her last co-op work term, Rounthwaite was hired by Beecher Bay First Nation to lead a youth program centered around food security and the revitalization of cultural food systems. This included developing strategies to engage youth with traditional food harvesting and preparation, building a community garden, and teaching youth about budgeting and cooking. Rounthwaite also provided peer guidance and support for children and youth in the community.

Rounthwaite’s commitment to and enthusiasm for her work were recognized by her supervisor Denise Chewka, a social development worker with the Beecher Bay First Nation. “Through her hands-on and experiential approach to educating, strengthening and empowering children and youth, Hallie has inspired youth to have fun while learning, which has been priceless,” she says.

Throughout her work term, Rounthwaite developed relationships with the community and grew her understanding and interest of food security and Indigenous food systems. “My co-op term literally changed my life, and the direction of my academic studies,” she says. “I learned so much from the people of Beecher Bay First Nation and have continued to stay connected.” Rounthwaite intends to continue her studies with graduate research in ethnoecology and hopes to continue working closely with Indigenous communities.


In this story

Keywords: co-op, employment, cybersecurity, business, agriculture, sustainability

People: Andres Agresot, Anona Wiebe, Hallie Routhwaite

Publication: The Ring

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