Bringing a Fresh Perspective to the Health Sciences

The Emily Stowe Scholars Program engages, retains and supports the advancement of diverse persons in the health sciences

People from diverse communities continue to be underrepresented at all levels in the health sciences. Without equity and diversity this area, we simply cannot revolutionize healthcare for a healthier and more equitable world. The Emily Stowe Scholars Program (ESSP) was named in honour of Dr. Emily Stowe. As Canada’s first woman doctor, Dr. Stowe aided in establishing Woman’s Medical College (later Women’s College Hospital [WCH]) in 1883, Toronto’s first medical school for women. The ESSP is made possible through generous funding from the Emily Stowe Society, a community of individual donors, foundations and corporations dedicated to breaking down barriers to careers in the health sciences.

With a special focus on removing obstacles for individuals from underrepresented communities, the ESSP has a collective mission to engage, retain and support diverse scholars from early learning through their career trajectories. The program funds Black, Indigenous, racialized, Two-Spirit, trans, non-binary and persons living with disabilities who have been systemically and historically excluded in healthcare and health science career trajectories.

For its inaugural year, the ESSP is welcoming 22 students at all levels from high school through to graduate school to the Summer Student Research Program. “ESSP provides students who have been systemically excluded in healthcare and health-science careers with a pathway to build networks and gain access to opportunities they may not have been exposed to previously,” says Yonda Lai, Project Manager, Strategy and Planning, at WCH. Beyond the summer program, Lai says she hopes ESSP students will have a continued relationship with WCH and the networks they create here.

In addition to networking opportunities, students will be exposed to unique learning areas, including Indigenous health, and partnerships with other Toronto academic hospitals such as SickKids. Removing barriers to learning also entails providing resources, such as transportation and technology, where needed, which the ESSP is committed to doing. “With this unique scholarship opportunity and generous funding from the Emily Stowe Society, we’re able to welcome more students, which will in turn lead to more, better-quality research and further health equity.”

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