Laila AlbalkhiComputer science student Laila Albalkhi is the first UWindsor student to win a 3M National Student Fellowship.

UWindsor student honoured with national fellowship

The UWindsor student community is more connected thanks to the leadership of Laila Albalkhi.

The computer science major’s passion for leading student tech opportunities by connecting education and industry has won her recognition from the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education as one of its 2022 3M National Student Fellows. She will also have the opportunity to network among teaching fellows and student fellows at the national conference in Ottawa this spring. The award comes with a cash prize of $1,000, recognition from the president of the STLHE, and a two-year society membership.

Phebe Lam, acting associate vice-president, student experience, says she is delighted to see Albalkhi represent the University at the national level.

“Laila’s accomplishment is a testimonial to UWindsor’s capacity to educate, endorse, and support student leaders,” she said.

Albalkhi agrees. She praised her mentors in the School of Computer Science, the Faculty of Science, the Office of Student Experience, the Student Success and Leadership Centre, and the Outstanding Scholars program.

Nominator Simon du Toit called himself “thrilled” with the result, saying: “Laila has innovated solutions to local social challenges, whilst also providing experiential learning opportunities for students that have real-world impact.”

At first Albalkhi said that winning the award “was a nice surprise,” but once she learned more about the fellowship, she realized how great of an opportunity this was going to be.

“One of the main things that I hope to accomplish is bringing the things that I learned back to UWindsor so we can continue the success and connection with the STLHE.”

She currently serves as president of the UWindsor chapter of the Google Developer Student Club, and acknowledged her predecessors.

“I've had the great chance to meet leaders as a student in computer science like alumnus Noah Campbell, who has been such a great support system. He started the GDSC on campus, so I had the opportunity to talk to him and Aislyn Lewis-Laurent, who was the GDSC leader after that.”

The club boasts more than 550 graduate and undergraduate members participating in events such as community hackathons. The club website posts that the UWindsor chapter of the GDSC “is all about helping students build their skills and their resume with fantastic community projects and interesting workshops.” Learn more on its discord server.

Albalkhi also has a record of advocacy, serving on the UWindsor Senate, as an undergraduate representative in the School of Computer Science, as a senior member of the Mayor’s Youth Leadership Team, and as co-vice president of the Outstanding Scholars Student Council.

Founded in 2012, the Student Fellowship honours students who have demonstrated leadership and embrace a vision of education that enhances their academic experience and beyond.

Denise Stockley, chair of the STLHE Board of Directors, praised recipients as showing promise and drive.

“Not only are they continuing to forge the path for their academic cohorts, but they’re also broadening the road for the many who will join them in their respective careers,” she said.

—Tim Brunet

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