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CEWIL Student of The Year Awards

posted on March 19, 2020

Today we are celebrating these amazing students and the impact students can have on organizations. During these uncertain times, we are encouraging employers to work with institutions to keep students working on important initiatives like these students have achieved. We are working on tools and recommendations to help continue to engage students in #WIL. Please visit our website at for updates. At this time we will also be pausing on Co-op & WIL month announcements. Thank you to everyone who has engaged. #WILPower 

Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada (CEWIL Canada) is pleased to recognize the 2019 Work-Integrated Learning Students of the Year.  Out of 42 impressive nominations, four students from across Canada earned top recognition for integrating their classroom and work-integrated learning to make an impact in their workplaces, on their campuses, and in their lives: Christina Weng, Ahmed Jawa, Tara Sottile, and Avie Olarte.
Christina Weng, Student of the Year for Co-operative Education at a College, is a student in Sheridan College’s Honours Bachelor of Interaction Design program. Christina worked with Microsoft Vancouver Garage where she was instrumental in the rebrand and user experience design of a Microsoft product that now has 120,000 downloads.  On campus, she is the Co-founder/President of the “Hackademics” club for whom she raised over $12,000 in sponsorship funds. Christina is an incredibly inspirational mentor to other students through resume workshops, portfolio reviews, mock interviews, job search articles and a Co-op podcast! Christina is a tremendous example for students of what can be achieved through a strategic job search. She has already accepted a full-time position with Facebook in California to begin after she graduates in April.
Ahmed Jawa, Student of the Year for Co-operative Education at a University, achieved a lot personally, academically and professionally through co-operative education at Brock University.   Working as a Junior Consultant with the United Nations Development Programme in Cambodia, he worked on incredible projects and with highly ranked individuals.  This exposed him to life as a consultant and helped him value the applicability of his Bachelor of Business Administration degree.  In his nomination, he stated, “Moments like these are what really develops character and makes a professional whole. While working at these organizations I was also able to build great connections… there were many moments where I felt my education had helped me achieve more.”
The Student of the Year for Other Forms of Work-Integrated Learning at the College level is Tara Sottile, a second year Journalism – Mass Media diploma student at Durham College. She has a passion for writing, broadcast and video production. According to her nominator, Tara has demonstrated the transformative influence that work-integrated learning (WIL) can have on students. Through service learning experience working on a digital storytelling project with youth in Guatemala, she has transformed from a passive-observer to an engaged learner and confident student journalist. She is a radio tech at Riot Radio, Durham College’s student-run radio station, and a regular contributor to The Chronicle, the campus newspaper. She searches for meaning in all stories she produces and is focused on giving a voice to the voiceless. Tara hopes to continue telling stories and pursue a career in radio broadcast after graduating.
This year’s recipient of the Student of the Year of Other Forms of Work-Integrated Learning at the University level is Avigail Marie Olarte.  Avie is a Filipino storyteller, mentor, and community connector studying in the MA Intercultural and International Communication program at Royal Roads University. Having practiced journalism in the Philippines and Southeast Asia for 18 years, she believes in the power of the written word and how it effects change. As Here Magazine’s Community Engagement Director, she connected community partners, decision-makers, and stakeholders to address challenges newcomers face in Victoria. Avie is committed to decolonizing methods of communication to bridge the gap between the newcomer-immigrant and Indigenous communities, and to create platforms for storytelling for reconciliation. She abides by the word from the Nihiyaw (Cree) language, “tawaw” – which means “there's always room” – for communities to come together and say, we exist, we are alive, and we have a story to tell.
Each year CEWIL Canada recognizes outstanding student achievement and this year the Awards Committee read amazing testimonies of students completing co-op terms, practicums, internships, applied research projects (and many other forms of work-integrated learning) from coast to coast. Co-op/work-integrated learning offices in post-secondary institutions across Canada will be celebrating these students’ achievements and other co-op/work-integrated learning initiatives during National Co-op and WIL Month, March 1-31, 2020.
Helen Kobrc
Co-Chair, CEWIL External Awards & Recognition Committee | 250-721-7358 |