Aquila Akingbade, a participant in the 2015 Bio-statistics Enrichment Project explains a bio-statistics equation to Ike Okafor, Senior Officer of Service Learning & Diversity Outreach at the Faculty of Medicine’s Office of Health Professions Student Affairs (photo by Erin Howe).
Last July, a new bio-statistics course taught by Rhodes Scholars was launched with the aim of breaking down barriers for black students who wish to pursue medicine.
The course is part of the Community of Support (CoS) initiative which aims to increase the number of underrepresented students in medicine. In collaboration with Undergraduate Medical Education Offices of Health Professions Student Affairs and Enrolment Services, the U of T Black Medical Student’s Association and the Black Physicians’ Association of Ontario, the Community of Support provides Black Canadian students with access to mentors, job-shadowing, volunteer and research opportunities, medical-school admission information and guidance. In just six months since its launch over 140 students have joined the Community of Support and this number is set to grow considerably.
As Ike Okafor, Senior Officer of Service Learning & Diversity Outreach at the Faculty of Medicine’s Office of Health Professions Student Affairs, explains students do not need to be at the University of Toronto currently to become a member of the CoS. “CoS has students (and recent graduates) from universities across Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec. Students at over eight schools have also been organizing to hold local activities at their respective campuses.”
Oluwatobi Olaiya, Community of Support member
Oluwatobi Olaiya is one example of a student benefitting from the CoS. Currently studying Biology at York University, Olaiya is hoping to apply to medical school in Canada. He feels the CoS has connected him with a lot of different opportunities that he would not have been able access otherwise. “Before CoS I would send out mass e-mails for shadowing opportunities or research, which rarely led to anything,” he says. Since becoming part of the CoS, Olaiya says he has been provided with both shadowing and leadership opportunities. Furthermore, he has participated in a number of informational webinars. “In these meetings we are put in contact with some really great medical students who take the time to advise as well as answer any questions about medical school or the application process. I personally find it really helpful to get advice from students who recently went through the application process. These seminars often act as my espresso, energizing my academic efforts, reminding me [that] one day I too will get there.”
For more information or to join the Community of Support, see: http://www.ohpsa.utoronto.ca/studentlife/diversityoutreach.htm