Conestoga news

March 24, 2021 1:34 PM

Conestoga student recognized with WIL award

Experiential and Work-Integrated Learning Ontario (EWO) has named Recreation & Leisure Services student Rebekah Derle the recipient of its 2020 Work-Integrated Learning Student of the Year Award. The award recognizes one college student and one university student who have showcased exceptional job accomplishment, extra-curricular involvement, academic achievement and a strong contribution to work-integrated learning (WIL).

Derle completed two work placements at St. Andrew’s Terrace long-term care home in Cambridge where she provided support in the Life Enrichment department. Working daily with residents, she learned how to plan, implement and run resident programs safely while observing COVID-19 protocols.

Described by care home staff as punctual, reliable, helpful and positive, Derle is said to have gone above and beyond in her work placement role by volunteering to help wherever needed and coordinating Zoom calls between residents and their family members in order to help them maintain much-needed family connections. As a trumpeter, she also used her talents to run music programs.

Following her work placement, Derle has continued her involvement at the care home by serving as a volunteer.

“Our Co-op and Work-Integrated Learning office is so pleased that Rebekah’s workplace experience has been recognized by EWO,” said Linda Crawford, associate director, Work-Integrated Learning. “She has made an important contribution to this long-term care home during the pandemic, and the skills and knowledge she acquired will be essential in her career. The Conestoga community looks forward to recognizing Rebekah’s success at our upcoming Employer Relations awards on March 25 as part of National Co-op & WIL month.”

At Conestoga, Derle also serves as a program ambassador through her role as the student representative on the Program Advisory Committee. The committee provides guidance to the academic team on program direction to ensure it is meeting the needs of industry, students and staff.

In this role, Derle maintains ongoing dialog with her fellow classmates about the program -- including WIL-related topics -- and brings feedback, issues and ideas forward to the committee. She also volunteers for program activities including Orientation where she encourages new and current students to explore different areas and to be open to the new experiences WIL offers. She also brings her learning from WIL into the classroom, sharing what she's learned as an example to illustrate concepts.

Mamie Sealey-Baker, professor and program coordinator for the Recreation and Leisure Services program, nominated Derle for the award, which includes a $750 prize.

EWO’s WIL awards were introduced in 2018. This is the first time a Conestoga student has been recognized.

Conestoga has positioned itself as a leader in delivery of co-operative education and work-integrated learning opportunities. Through their programs, nearly 70 per cent of Conestoga students have access to work-integrated and experiential learning opportunities which provide relevant hands-on learning in support of students’ education and future careers. 

The two-year Recreation & Leisure Services diploma program prepares graduates for a number of progressive careers in the diverse field of recreation and leisure services. Throughout the program, students experience active learning opportunities that connect theory and practice through in-class projects, community connections, and work-integrated learning experiences, making learning engaging and meaningful.