“You mean I can work in a hospital?”

Sarina Simanws has experienced a lot in her relatively short time in Canada. Originally from Kurdistan in northern Iraq, she came to Canada in January 2020, a month before the pandemic hit.
One of the biggest changes she found was in the education system.

“Things are just so different here in Canada,” said Sarina. “It took me a while to understand all that is available to students compared to what I was used to.”

In particular, there was nothing in the Middle East system like experiential learning. Sarina credits Susanna Colvin, her teacher at Galt Collegiate Institute (GCI), for showing her what is available through the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) Co-Operative Education program.

“I’m interested in going into health care after high school,” said Sarina. “As we talked about my future, Ms. Colvin suggested that I look into doing a co-op placement in the field. I was amazed that a high school student could do something like this. ‘You mean I can work in a hospital? Is this normal?’ I was truly amazed I could do this.”

Colvin arranged for Sarina to apply for a placement at Cambridge Memorial Hospital, where she was interviewed by Tracy Moxon, the Volunteer Services Manager. Tracy has managed many co-op students over her career and has seen first-hand the benefits of the program.

“I feel it is important to provide students with an opportunity to experience the environment they are looking to as they enter their career,” said Moxon. “In health care, that includes gaining exposure to many of the different units and services offered at the hospital.”

Sarina agrees that her placement at the hospital has been helpful as she decides on a path after high school. She explained it’s more than just familiarity with the way a hospital works.

“I can’t count the times and the people I encountered and had a chat with that gave me advice and encouragement about pursuing health care,” said Sarina. “It has boosted my confidence and given me the motivation to take it all the way through.”

Sarina recalled one experience in particular as helping to affirm her future career path.

“On my third day at the hospital, I was taking a woman in a wheelchair to the Surgical Day Care Clinic,” said Sarina. “We were just chatting about what seemed like everyday things, but she thanked me for being friendly and lowering her stress level. That was so rewarding!”

Co-operative education may have been new to Sarina, but it hasn’t taken her long to get excited about the program.

“It’s a great opportunity for those who are young and still not sure…about their future career. [Co-op] provides us with a better understanding and great experiences,” said Sarina. “We are so fortunate to have these opportunities.”

Co-operative Education in the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB)

Co-operative Education placements give students a hands-on way to explore careers in fields as diverse as child care, law, computer programming and the trades. Students, parents and caregivers can learn about these opportunities by speaking with the Guidance Counsellor at your high school.

Pathways to Success

Visit the Pathways to Success website for information on:


If you’re someone who wants to help a student explore a career in your field, contact:
Kim Keena, Experiential and Co-operative Education Lead
Waterloo Region District School Board
519-570-0003 (extension 4443)