Cruising over to Kitchener


By Injeong Yang

It’s been a decade since the University of Waterloo’s School of Pharmacy was developed, and the surrounding region has certainly been refreshed.

A walk through downtown Kitchener shows its growth spurt, from the ever-evolving Communitech, recent condominium additions, latest transit hub, to the new Google office.

The School of Pharmacy

Honing in on the School of Pharmacy, the building is a welcoming sight. It was designed by Siamak Hariri, a University of Waterloo graduate, who envisioned glass panels of medicinal plants on the exterior, allowing for plenty of natural light to shine through. Another architectural feature is the irregular and out of the box shape of the building, representing an innovative, holistic, and collaborative pharmacy school.

In 2010, McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine opened next door, integrating both programs as part of the Kitchener Health Sciences Campus. The addition of the School of Optometry’s satellite teaching clinic and Centre for Contact Lens Research further provided opportunities for interprofessional learning.

As the latest Canadian pharmacy school, its faculty, graduates, and students have already made a huge positive impact for healthcare development. The School of Pharmacy is the only co-op pharmacy program, allowing students to have over 1,650 hours of practical experience, in addition to fourth year clinical rotations. Students are exposed to a wide variety of employment opportunities, from community pharmacy to government to the pharmaceutical industry. There are also many integrated healthcare learning  opportunities with the school’s neighbours, Wilfrid Laurier University’s Faculty of Social Work, and Conestoga College’s many health-related programs. The School of Pharmacy takes pride in its research initiatives, especially among faculty members and graduate students. Some examples include finding better treatment alternatives for Alzheimer’s disease and nanotechnology for delivering gene therapy.

Student Life in Kitchener

Though separated from the main hustle and bustle of student life, pharmacy students have plenty of entertainment in Kitchener. Within the school walls, a plethora of clubs and committees advocate for both pharmacy students and the profession itself. Some examples include the Society of Pharmacy Students, the Paediatric Pharmacy Advocacy Group, and Community Action Now. Other student-run initiatives are geared towards social and sport-related activities, such as beach days, intramural sports, trips to see the Raptors play, and open mic nights. Ontario Pharmacists’ Association Cup, a big annual event, is a hockey match between pharmacy faculty and the University of Toronto’s.

Beyond the school, local eateries do tend to close their doors earlier than in Waterloo, but there are a few choice spots to go. Students looking to stretch their legs and grab some caffeine often head to Balzac’s Coffee Roasters or Settlement Co. across the road. Further down King Street West are some classic spots. Kinkaku Izakaya is the place to indulge in all-you-can-eat sushi, while Rainbow Caribbean Cuisine has some comfort food for everyone. If you’re looking for drinks, head down to Abe Erb for great local beer, or Grand Trunk Saloon for some fine cocktails. Every Saturday morning, the Kitchener Farmers’ Market is open with fresh and well-priced produce. You can also grab breakfast from a host of international vendors, from Mexican to Greek. While only a few choice spots to eat were mentioned here, downtown Kitchener has its own special array of food and hangouts for students in the area.