March 3, 2023Print | PDF
Fatima Khan, a fourth-year User Experience Design program student, has been named Wilfrid Laurier University’s 2022 Co-op Student of the Year after a 16-month term at the Ontario Digital Service, a division of the provincial government that works to improve online government services for Ontarians.
As a product design co-op student, Khan provided user experience research, design and support to many high-impact, public-facing initiatives, including several projects tied to the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 response. When her co-op term finished in August 2022, Khan accepted a senior user experience design position at the agency.
Laurier’s annual Co-op Student of the Year award program recognizes students who have made outstanding contributions to their co-op employer, but also considers students’ academic standing and contributions to the Laurier community. Khan was nominated by her supervisor at the Ontario Digital Service. She was chosen from 40 nominations.
“Fatima has been a real asset to our organization. She brings a measure of mindfulness, attention to detail and acuity to our work that is truly notable,” says Shannah Segal, senior manager of experience design at the Ontario Digital Service. “She’s a wonderful addition to our team and I cannot think of a more deserving person to be honoured with this award.”
During her 16-month co-op, Khan supported projects undertaken by the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, and the Ministry of the Attorney General, and worked with a variety of end users, including municipalities, First Nations and non-profit organizations. Her work in experience design and user research supported the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the distribution of rapid antigen test kits; an N95 mask-fitting program; and a funding program for organizations supporting Ontario’s response to the pandemic. She was also involved in creating a database of volunteers available to assist during emergencies and supported a project to facilitate access to flu shots.
“Being able to make everyday interactions with governmental processes quicker and easier using user experience design opened my eyes to how transformative data-driven design can be,” says Khan. “I really appreciate the opportunity to work in supportive environments that allow me to centre equity and impact in my work. This role allowed me to realize that community-based design is where my heart lies.”
In addition to her co-op, Khan has also been active at Laurier. She was president elect of Laurier’s User Experience Design Students’ Association and organized networking events, portfolio reviews and mentoring by user experience design professionals. While students were studying from home during the pandemic, she worked as an instructional assistant, helping students learn design thinking concepts and research. The projects Khan completed for her classes earned her several nominations for undergraduate research awards.
“Ms. Khan truly exemplifies the value that work-integrated learning brings to our students’ lives and to the employers and communities they serve,” says Abby Goodrum, professor and coordinator of the User Experience Design program. “Not only does she bring the things she’s learned from her classes into the work she does for her employer, but she’s also been proactive in bringing the things she’s learned from her job back into the classroom to help further her own education as well as the education of her peers.”
In her new role as a senior user experience designer, Khan is taking on increasingly complex projects, including digitizing and modernizing data collection and compliance processes for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and improving emergency management practices for the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks.
Laurier offers co-op programming in more than 40 undergraduate and graduate programs, including the largest business degree co-op program in Canada. Co-op is available year-round, with students beginning work in January, May or September, and can last from four to 16 months. Visit wlu.ca/co-op for more information or email email@example.com.
Laurie Lahn, Associate Director
Co-operative Education and External Relations