Envisioning a career in the health sciences: the Summer Mentorship Program provides hands-on experience and connections with mentors
Impacted by loss at an early age growing up in Jamaica, Rogney Ingram knew he wanted to do something to help people and preserve life. Medicine seemed like the perfect fit. “When La Toya Dennie visited my high school to tell us about the Summer Mentorship Program (SMP), I knew I wanted to apply,” states Ingram, now 17 years and living in Mississauga.
La Toya Dennie, Outreach Coordinator with the Office of Health Professions Student Affairs visits secondary schools across the province to tell students about SMP, a program that provides high school students of Indigenous or African ancestry with the opportunity to explore health sciences at the U of T. Over the month of July, 60 SMP students visited various faculties across the health sciences including Dentistry, Nursing, Social Work and Pharmacy and learned about diverse health care professions. They also benefitted from the experiences of guest speakers and participated in hands-on workshops and shadowing placements.
For Mackenzie Richmond, a 17-year-old student from Oro-Medonte, Ontario the experience allowed her to get a taste of living in a university residence while strengthening her networking skills and gaining confidence forming relationships with mentors. “I don’t know many people involved in the health sciences, so SMP was a great opportunity to meet people in health-related occupations,” she says. “I also gained awareness of some of the barriers that people face in accessing care and developed a passion for fighting against discrimination. Talking to our presenters and mentors inspired me and made want to get involved.” Previously undecided about which of the health sciences she was most interested in, speaking with a mentor enabled Richmond to hone in on Kinesiology at U of T.
For Ingram the biggest highlight of SMP was shadowing a physician at Trillium Health Partners and getting the chance to view surgeries taking place. “The experience gave me a feel for what it would actually be like to be a doctor,” says Ingram. “But after trying suturing in a hands-on demonstration in class, I realized that maybe surgery wasn’t for me.” Instead, a passion for paediatrics was confirmed at a visit to the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). “I’ll be pursuing follow-up activities to SMP, including an internship opportunity at SickKids,” says Ingram.
For many students, the SMP experience will continue long after the month-long program concludes. The follow up Discover Program offers additional workshops, shadowing experiences, internship and research opportunities. “SMP opens doors to gaining experience and meeting the right people,” concludes Richmond.
Closing ceremonies took place on July 28, 2016.
Congratulations with this year’s SMP graduates!