At two years of age, Dennis Forrester said he wanted to be a medical doctor. At least, that was what his grandmother told him years later and he believes her.
Dr. Forrester, who has been practicing medicine in the Greater Toronto Area for the past three decades, was recognized for Excellence in Medicine with an award last Saturday night at the Calabar Old Boys’ Association Canada chapter annual celebration.
He graduated from the all-boys school in 1969.
The recipient of a Jamaica scholarship to study chemical engineering at the University of the West Indies (UWI) St. Augustine campus in Trinidad, Forrester won an Alcan Overseas Post-Graduate Award to attend the University of Toronto, where he pursued a Master’s in medical engineering.
“When I did engineering, my intent was to pursue an academic life and research in that field,” said Forrester. “But while doing bio-medical engineering, I got a little taste of medicine because I had to do some courses in that faculty. I think that is what stimulated my interest and passion to switch to medicine.”
Forrester, who did his residency at Toronto General Hospital before going into family practice, relished his time at Calabar.
“I was in an environment where excellence was stressed and I remember being engaged in healthy competition with a classmate to see who would complete the projects in our math books first,” he said. “We were encouraged to excel and we grew up feeling we could achieve anything we wanted. Calabar provided a solid base and foundation for the success I have attained in life, personally and professionally.”
Forrester said the award is a reminder that he has a moral responsibility to give back to Calabar and provide opportunities for the school’s students.
Founded 101 years ago by the Jamaica Baptist Union for children of Baptist ministers and underprivileged Black students, Calabar has produced three Rhodes scholars – Dr. Franklyn Prendergast, who is the director of the Mayo Clinic Centre for Individualized Medicine in Minnesota; Rudolph Smellie and Michael Abrahams. Other distinguished alumni include UWI founding father, Sir Philip Sherlock; former prime minister, P.J. Patterson, entertainers Ken Boothe and John Holt and late Olympians, Herb McKenley and Arthur Wint.