Jesse McGinnis, 24
It’s easy to forget that the University of Waterloo is just 58 years old—young, by institutional standards—when it continues to be named a top institution year after year. That the city of Waterloo grew alongside the university demonstrates the impact the institution has made in its very short life. Its tightly packed campus—study space during midterms and finals is coveted, and it’s often down to pure luck finding a place to sit in the Student Life Centre—continues to expand to meet growing needs, but at the cost of the constant sound of construction. However, what makes the University of Waterloo great isn’t the physical campus—it’s the people. Touting itself as one of Canada’s most innovative universities, UWaterloo thrives on a do-it-yourself culture, with a robust co-op program and continuous expectation that students will strive for their own academic solutions. We are surrounded by intelligent and driven professors, from the popular economist Larry Smith to the famed astronaut Chris Hadfield. Our campus is not traditional: Problem-solvers, innovators and students with ambition are whom we celebrate. Between all of this work, though, we enjoy our fun! The university provides ample opportunities to get involved, whether it’s through athletics, student government, technical design teams, orientation week or the 170-plus clubs offered by the student union. The school will kick your ass occasionally, but all in the name of making you better.
Waterloo is a small town with a global perspective—just cozy enough to fall in love with, yet big enough to launch the most ambitious of dreams. The vibrant technology community and start-up culture has taken the city by storm, bringing companies such as Google and Square to the region. There is a growing public transit system, with plans to install a new light-rail transit line, and a wide variety of quaint restaurants and coffee shops within a quick bus ride of campus. To top it off, there’s the amazing farming village of St. Jacobs just minutes away for fresh and local fruits and vegetables.
The best way to get the pulse of the campus is through a mixture of websites, including: Reddit’s Waterloo thread (Reddit.com/r/UWwaterloo); the Daily Bulletin (Bulletin.UWaterloo.ca); the student newspaper, Imprint (UWImprint.ca); the engineering student newspaper, the Iron Warrior (IWarrior.UWaterloo.ca); the math student newspaper, MathNews (MathNews.UWaterloo.ca); and everyone’s favourite procrastination tool, OMGUW (OMGUW.com).