Melissa Bailey, a genetics honours Co-op student at the University of Manitoba, was chosen as this year’s 2010 Canadian Association of Co-operative Education’s (CAFCE) Co-op Student of the Year. The award recognizes outstanding achievements of students participating in their post-secondary institution’s co-operative education program.
Bailey successfully carried out research into the electrical properties of neurons as they respond to hormones regulating hunger, using cutting edge research techniques “so challenging few people have the dexterity and patience to be able to do”, according to her co-op supervisor Dr. Mark Fry.
"Along with her technical acumen, Melissa also demonstrated she has the potential to be an absolutely stellar scientist," said Fry. "She used her knowledge and scientific training to design and interpret complicated experiments as well as solve problems effectively and creatively."
Bailey uses the skills she developed as a co-op student, and her passion for science, to educate and mentor youth as a local coordinator for the national Let’s Talk Science program. She also shares her enthusiasm for co-op with high school and university students, promoting the value of “hands-on / minds-on” learning.
Bailey finds time to teach and perform trapeze and aerial dance, including establishing an aerial dance program for disadvantaged youth. Volunteering as both coordinator and instructor, she is helping young people develop creativity, discipline, strength, and respect for themselves. She was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to complete graduate studies in Clinical Medicine and Neuroscience at the University of Oxford in England.
"The experience I have gained from co-op has been instrumental in my academic success," said Bailey. "I have thrived in the program, gaining valuable work experience doing cutting-edge research both home and abroad. Co-op has helped me realize the full potential of my Science undergraduate degree and I have learned not just the skills I need to succeed, but how to apply these skills."
Each year CAFCE recognizes outstanding co-op student achievement from both the college and university level. Co-op offices across Canada will be celebrating this and other co-op initiatives during National Co-operative Education Week, March 21-25, 2011. 31 students were nominated this year from a pool of more than 80,000 candidates studying at 77 CAFCE member institutions across Canada.