The daughter of Jamaican R&B, dancehall and reggae singer and producer, Richie Stephens, has been presented with a ‘Letter Award’ by the University of Toronto Scarborough.
Dominic Stephenson, a UTSC alum, was presented with the honor for bringing together the campus group “Future Black Physicians,” an organization that received the University’s “Best New Club” award.
The University of Toronto Scarborough Letter Awards were established in the fall of 2000 by the Office of Student Affairs & Services with the support of the Council on Student Services. The awards aim to recognize graduating students for significant contributions to campus life.
Club revived by Stephenson
The club, originally created in 2015 and revived by Stephenson and founder Gary Wilson, hosts networking events, preparation for applying to medical school such as practice MCATs, and Q & A’s with current black medical school students and physicians.
Stephenson told UTSC News that her interest in creating a pre-med group such as FBP came out of her experience as an immigrant to Canada three years ago.
She and her Jamaican family immigrated from New York after she was accepted to U of T Scarborough’s Health Studies program – a step on her path to medical school.
That path was complicated with challenges Stephenson encountered once settling in Ontario.
“I was so overwhelmed by being in a new country, new school, not knowing anybody and I struggled to stay on track with planning for medical school,” Stephenson was quoted as saying.
She spoke with fellow students, and leaders in the U of T community and quickly discovered she was not alone in her concerns and desire to connect.
Stephenson brainstormed with like-minded students and joined forces with Wilson, who founded the 2015 Future Black Physicians and is double majoring in Human Biology and Neuroscience as well as minoring in Psychology and Music & Culture.
“Dominic brought herself, along with a few other people, to inject FBP with new life,” says Wilson.
Black mental health workshop
Since 2016 and with support from other groups, FBP has organized several official events such as the Ignite COS Conference –where physicians spoke about their experiences studying in Canada, the Caribbean and the United States – and the Black Mental Health Workshop – a workshop featuring community social worker Racquel Hamlet who facilitated an interactive workshop on black mental health, addressing stigma and the supports in the community.
Hard work recognized
“It’s great to realize that our hard work has been recognized,” says Stephenson. “We just want to keep moving forward and reaching out to as many people as possible.”
Stephenson was also lauded for participating in a tri-campus Black Mental Health Art Project and volunteering with ARTSIDEOUT, Caribbean Connection.
She has also worked with Student Life and currently serves as the student representative on the Campus Affairs Committee.
Her father, Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland-born Richie Stephens, was part of the group Soul II Soul, which won two Grammys. He recorded at Motown and ultimately established his own label, Pot of Gold Records. Stephens received the Jamaican Governor-General’s Achievement Award in 2006 in recognition of his contributions to civic, social and recreational projects in and around the parish of Westmoreland.