This article was originally published on the SFU News on April 14, 2015.
Simon Fraser University co-op student Laramie Ferguson is B.C.’s 2014 Co-op Student of the Year in the university category.
The award—from the Association for Co-operative Education B.C./Yukon—recognizes Ferguson’s outstanding achievements in her co-op education work placements, as well as her strong academic record (straight A’s), volunteer work, and efforts to promote co-op education at school and in the community.
Ferguson didn’t originally plan on joining SFU’s Co-op Education Program. But her difficulties in pursuing science-related job opportunities during her first year of studies changed her mind.
“So I decided to start the process of becoming a co-op student because I would learn essential skills for finding and landing those coveted jobs in science,” says Ferguson.
While most students complete four co-op work terms, Ferguson took on five placements over three years. She worked for local environmental consulting firm Ecofish Research Ltd; SFU’s Department of Biological Sciences; the federal Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency; and Stantec—an international environmental consulting firm.
“My experience in the co-op program gave me great insight into differing careers in my field, such as academia, the federal government, and private consulting,” she says.
Her co-op experiences also gave her the confidence to apply to the University of Boston’s one-month field study program to study wildlife management in Tanzania, Africa in July 2013.
“What a cool prospect: to travel as a class of undergraduates to a place I always dreamed of going, studying animals I’ve always dreamed of seeing, while pursuing my dream of wildlife conservation—truly a dream come true.”
Now, Ferguson says her time in co-op was a great investment for life after graduation, and highly recommends it to all students.
“Experiences are always valuable, as they provide transferable skills and an extensive network that will take you from one opportunity to the next,” she says. “ I acquired diverse technical skills and professional contacts that will serve as a foundation for my employability after university.”
Ferguson has completed her undergraduate requirements and is now working as a field assistant for a UBC graduate student’s project to improve understanding of the Williamson’s Sapsucker, an endangered woodpecker species.