Co-op student wins national award

March 10, 2005, vol. 32, no. 5
By Willow Johnson and John Grant



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Jan Verspoor needs to make room in the recognition and awards section of his resume after receiving Canada's co-op student of the year award from the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education (CAFCE).

The third year SFU science and environment co-op student was chosen from 23 other candidates across the country.

Despite winning SFU's 2004 Alumni Association outstanding student leadership award and SFU co-op's student of the year award in early February, Verspoor was still surprised to hear about his latest accolade.

The biology major maintains it was the co-operative education program that played the deciding role in his decision to attend SFU, a decision that has benefited his academic life and career aspirations.

With the confidence he gained during his first co-op placement as a member of a specialized research team with Environment Canada's Pacific Environment Science Centre, he set out to pursue a self-directed international work term.

This effort resulted in a trip to the Cayman Islands where he worked as a field assistant to a SFU PhD candidate, helping to collect data on health indicators of the southern stingray.

A vocal proponent of co-op, the self-proclaimed kid at heart acknowledges that the unique combination of academic and applied experience creates a competitive advantage when applying to graduate school or for future employment.

Described by his supervisors as outgoing, with a contagious enthusiasm for life and a worldly outlook beyond his years, Verspoor has devoted an impressive amount of time and energy to serving the SFU community and the community-at-large. Most notably, this past summer he found a unique way to combine his love of sports with humanitarian aims by establishing and leading international sport camps for underprivileged children in countries such as Bosnia, Romania, Croatia and Turkey.

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