The Association for Co-operative Education BC / Yukon is pleased to announce the recipients of the Co-op Student of the Year Awards for 2015. These awards recognize a BC or Yukon Co-op student who demonstrates an outstanding level of achievement in their co-operative education work placement experience; combined with a strong academic record, volunteer activities, and significant contributions to promoting co-operative education in their school and in the community.

University Category: Carlee Poleschuk (Thompson Rivers University)

Carlee Poleschuk is an Honours Chemical Biology Co-op student from Thompson Rivers University. From January 2015 until August 2015 she worked as a Nuclear Medicine Research Assistant at TRIUMF, Canada’s National Laboratory for Particle and Nuclear Physics in Vancouver, BC. During this time, she worked on a joint research project between TRIUMF and the BC Cancer Research Centre where she aided the Nuclear Medicine team in understanding, diagnosing and treating subtypes of breast cancer. By becoming familiar with radioisotope and radiopharmaceutical research, she was able to investigate the behaviour of a novel PET imaging tracer in various breast cancer cell lines. Her co-op supervisor Paul Schaffer describes Carlee as “a critical thinker and an independent worker with a strong work ethic and advanced knowledge and ability for someone at the undergraduate level”. Carlee has completed four work terms and will graduate in June 2015.

College Category: Maria Tepina (Camosun College)

Maria Tepina is an international student in her final year of a two-year advanced business diploma, the Human Resources Management at Camosun College. Maria completed a Co-op Work Term with GSB Enterprises Ltd (McDonald’s Restaurants) as a Human Resources Manager from May through August 2015. In her role, she has developed and applied communication, negotiation and leadership skills during recruitment, selection and retention processes. Previous to attending Camosun College, Maria Tepina graduated from the South Federal University of Rostov-on-Don, Russia with honours in Psychology Specialisation, and got her PhD at the same university in 2008. The combination of her academics from her degree and her recent skills that she has acquired at Camosun, have truly been a benefit to GSB Enterprises Ltd.


Honourable Mention – University Category (University of Victoria)

At 16, Ainsleigh Hill followed her love of science to the University of Victoria (UVic)  to study physics and biochemistry, where she has demonstrated a passion and talent for research. At UVic she modelled a specific gene regulatory network and assisted in structural–dynamic studies of a lipid-signalling enzyme. She immediately impressed her coop supervisor at the Terry Fox Laboratory by learning to program in R within a week and developing algorithms to analyse mass cytometry data. Ainsleigh was quickly able to brainstorm as an equal with the bioinformaticians on the team. She is a natural problem solver and trailblazer; when a standard mathematical expression used to measure data yielded inappropriate values, she identified the cause and remedied it—the modified expression is now referred to as the “Ainsleigh-index.” When not working, Ainsleigh enjoys soccer, running and travelling. She credits co-op with opening career opportunities and allowing her to focus on possible future research endeavours.

Honourable Mention – University Category (Simon Fraser University)

Nyssa Lessingham, an Arts Co-op student majoring in Psychology, with minors in Counselling and Gerontology, from Simon Fraser University (SFU), has been described by Co-op employer, Sharon Farrish (Director of Programs, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, BC and Yukon Division), as an “exceptionally mature young woman with a promising future.” From the moment she joined SFU, Nyssa has continuously demonstrated an exceptional drive and commitment to her academic achievements, Co-op career development and personal goals to one day be a leader and innovator in Health Promotion. As a compassionate global citizen, she has dedicated herself to helping others in her community through leadership roles in education and advocacy in the field of mental health and community engagement. With four Co-op semesters, Nyssa has developed extensive industry-related experience, a strong skill-set and an elaborate professional network, both locally and internationally. She’s been a positive Co-op ambassador both in the workplace and through promoting Co-op Education to her student peers.

Honourable Mention – University Category (University of British Columbia)

Alanna De Mello is a University of British Columbia (UBC) Combined Major in Science student. She completed a 16 month Co-op placement at BC Children’s Hospital in the Division of Nephrology where she was involved in several research projects on acute kidney injury. Alanna’s supervisor describes her as “the strongest research student that our Division has ever worked with”. One of Alanna’s greatest achievements was writing an abstract as first author for a team of world-class doctors across Canada. Alanna’s abstract won a Student Subspecialty Award for the top submission in her category. She presented her results at a conference in Carmel, California to leading nephrologists in Western U.S. and Canada. Outside of work, Alanna is committed to giving back to her school and community. She has been involved in the UBC Science Co-op Mentorship Program, volunteers as a UBC Peer Wellness Coach, and is a volunteer skating coach for Special Olympics BC.

Honourable Mention – College Category (Camosun College)

Chris Cocker, Computer Systems Technology Diploma, Camosun College Chris is in his final year of a 2-year diploma program, the Computer Systems Technology diploma at Camosun College, where he is maintaining a 9.0 GPA and recognised on the Dean’s List each term. Chris was also the proud recipient of the Danielle Sim First Year Student Award for maintaining a high level of academic achievement and showing excellent working relationships with colleagues. He has recently completed a summer co-op work term with distinction at Reliable Controls in Victoria, BC. In his role as a web developer, he has expanded and applied his computer programming skills while assisting with the creation of a new corporate website. This project not only gave a new look and feel for the company’s online marketing material, but also featured responsive design providing easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning and scrolling – across a wide range of devices including desktop, mobile phones and tablets. Previous to attending Camosun College, Chris had a 12-year career in hospitality; primarily working in the culinary trade as a Red Seal Certified chef. While not a traditional career path, Chris has paired his organizational and problem-solving skills with a passion for learning as he strives to achieve excellence in his new vocation.