Samantha Culos has been awarded the top prize for Co-op students, the Dr. Abe Unrau Memorial Co-op Prize.

FHS alumnus awarded top Co-op award

June 19, 2020

By: Geron Malbas

FHS alumnus Samantha Culos recently received the Dr. Abe Unrau Memorial Co-op Prize, awarded to an outstanding co-op student in any faculty who, at the time of graduation, has the highest cumulative grade point average and has successfully completed a minimum of three work semesters.

“I am extremely proud to be representing the Faculty of Health Sciences with this award,” she exclaims. “My co-op supervisor and FHS professors constantly encouraged me to recognize my academic and professional abilities, and I am beyond thankful for their support.” 

In addition to this top Co-op prize, she was also awarded the FHS Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement in the Bachelor of Arts program, which is given to an FHS graduate who has the highest cumulative GPA, highest Health Sciences GPA, or combination of the two.

Culos worked at the BC Cancer Agency as a Research Assistant for her first two Co-op work terms, assisting with three research projects that focused on patients who received treatment through the Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program of BC. While she returned to school after completing two Co-op terms over eight months working at the BC Cancer Agency, she developed a strong working relationship with her colleagues, which led to an invitation to return for a self-directed Co-op work term. 

“I had the opportunity to help carry out one of the research studies that I had assisted in designing during my first two co-op terms,” she explains. “This involved entering the clinical inpatient setting and interacting with patients who had newly diagnosed Acute Myeloid Leukemia, which led to an opportunity to present some findings from this study at the 2019 BC Support Unit Patient Oriented Research Conference in Vancouver.”

The highlight of Culos’ Co-op experience was engaging in patient-oriented research that allowed her to form connections with patients and caregivers, which helped her collect data that may benefit future patients. In addition to her Co-op experience, her FHS undergraduate experience inspired her to get involved in the local health community, volunteering at the BC Cancer Agency, the Renal Dialysis Unit at VGH, and the Pacific Autism Family Network. Culos also valued the opportunity to collaborate and discuss with FHS students the various health issues affecting local communities, helping her expand her perspective on health, illness, and disease.   

“Individual students have personal lived experiences that contribute to their overall understanding and experience of health, which is why collaboration is so impactful,” she says. “FHS has helped me discover the value of looking at health in a holistic manner, acknowledging all aspects of an individual and their community. As an underlying theme of many FHS undergraduate courses, I’ve rooted myself in this way of thinking to push myself to think critically when analyzing research findings.”

As a recent graduate, Culos offers some wise words of advice to students who are thinking about pursuing Co-op. 

“Pursue the opportunities your supervisor offers up that are outside of your comfort zone. Co-op is about personal and professional growth, and it is often these experiences that end up being the most memorable!”