Leni Ven, an undergraduate student who recently completed a data science degree in the Cheriton School of Computer Science, has been awarded the prestigious Governor General’s Silver Medal. The award recognizes a student graduating from the Faculty of Mathematics with the highest overall average.
Leni achieved the top cumulative average of all students who finished in spring 2021, fall 2021, and winter 2022 — a stunning 97.419% — and achieved the third highest Faculty of Mathematics average at 97.833%. Her outstanding academic record saw only five course grades below 95% and seventeen courses at 100%.
She is also well known in the Faculty of Mathematics for her website with notes and guides available for other students.
Leni is interested in research on neurosymbolic systems and automated reasoning. She is set to begin a PhD program at Stanford University this fall.
This remarkable student was initially refused entry into the computer science program, but, undeterred, began more general studies in the Faculty of Mathematics and transferred into computer science after demonstrating extraordinary capabilities.
“My route into computer science was not a typical one,” Leni says. “There were some big challenges at first, but I knew I wasn’t going to let anything stand in my way.”
Along with coursework and research in computer science, she is also graduating with a minor in pure math and another minor in combinatorics and optimization. But it wasn’t all work for this star student.
“University is a place to explore your interests,” she continues. “So, I also spent time learning violin, learning cooking, doing photography and taking road trips in southern Ontario.”
Leni says that several computer science professors were mentors and inspirations to achieve great things, especially some of the supervisors for different research projects, one of which led to a best paper award at SIGMETRICS 2021, the flagship conference of the Association for Computing Machinery’s special interest group for the computer systems performance evaluation community.
“I want to say thanks to Professors Justin Wan, Raouf Boutaba and Yizhou Zhang. They helped me so much along the way.”
As Leni prepares to start PhD studies, it is also a time to enjoy graduation and to think about her experiences gained at Waterloo.
“It can sometimes be the odd things that most stick out in your mind,” she says. “I remember in analysis class Professor Laurent Marcoux said he was taught math by chickens. So, I will proceed along this path and farm roosters and hens. I would love to stay in academia and carry on with chicken farming.”
Read more about the Governor General’s Silver Medal.