Jamaican med students get Canadian awards


A visit to Toronto East General Hospital two weeks ago enabled a Jamaican medical student to settle on her career goal.

“I was leaning heavily to becoming an obstetrician, but I was always told that the work involved was gross,” said Rudi-Ann Graham, who was one of four University of the West Indies, Mona Campus third-year medical students awarded Canadian scholarships last Saturday night in Toronto.

“But seeing my first cesarean birth and vaginal delivery at the hospital confirmed what I have always felt and that was this was the field for me. Both procedures were quite amazing and really neat. Now I know exactly what I want to do and that’s all because of the generosity extended by a caring group of Canadians who saw it fit to bring us here, award us scholarships and also give us an opportunity to visit a hospital and see first-hand how certain medical processes are done.”

A 2001 Campion College graduate, Graham said she was very impressed by the exceptional generosity and selflessness displayed to the students during their 10-day visit that culminated last weekend with them receiving scholarships administered by the non-profit Independent United Order of Solomon Pride of Toronto Chapter #12 Lodge.

Jamaican-born Order of Ontario recipient Lloyd Seivright has coordinated the program for the past 31 years and through the charitable organization, has distributed thousands of dollars worth of medical supplies, including wheelchairs, across Canada and the rest of the world.

“To know there are people out there who, out of the goodness of their heart, are concerned about others who are far away from them, is awesome,” said the 23-year-old Graham, who secured her first degree in biochemistry from the UWI. “They are doing this to make the world a wonderful place and we are very grateful because the financial aid means a lot to us.”

On her second visit to Canada after attending a friend’s wedding in Mississauga in August 2008, the Honours Society student is on the Faculty of Medical Sciences Dean’s List.

She was presented with a $1,500 Pride of Toronto award.

Shane Scott, the class president of the Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) medical undergraduate class of 2012, was the recipient of a $3,000 scholarship sponsored by Danforth Food Market and 2013318 Ontario Ltd.

“This award means the world,” said Scott, who aspires to be a neurosurgeon. “It’s about being recognized for your achievements, but most important it demonstrates clearly there are people who are interested in young people’s academic success and are willing to give us a helping hand without expecting anything back in return. I am humbled by this and it will drive me to attain my ultimate goal of running a medical centre in Jamaica to provide free medical care for those who can’t afford it. That’s my dream.”

Coming from an inner-city community makes 21-year-old Tamara Tomlinson appreciate every financial award that comes her way.

“My mother is a housekeeper and we have never had much in terms of money,” said the aspiring pediatrician, who was presented with the $3,000 Chevonne and Harry Lue award. “This is going to go a long way in helping me with my schooling.”

Andrea Thomas, who was born in Mandeville and raised in Montego Bay, obtained her first degree in Chemistry and Management before pursuing a medical degree. The Ted Ryan $2,000 scholarship winner intends to become a surgeon.

Three University of Toronto students were also presented with scholarships worth $5,000.

Third-year medical students Nigel Tan and Shiying Liu were the recipients of the Avia Healthwear and Maple Leaf Wheelchair Power Plus $2,000 scholarships respectively while fourth-year Computer Science student Hanna Revinskaye was presented with the Kay Baxter memorial scholarship that is co-funded by the Toronto Sun.

The former Jamaican diplomat, who served in Ottawa and Toronto, passed away in January 1998.

Seivright, whose organization also runs an annual Christmas party for needy families, made a special presentation to Toronto Sun senior associate editor and columnist Lorrie Goldstein, who has been associated with the charitable organization for the past 17 years. 

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