Out of a class of 259, Dr. Chika Stacy Oriuwa was the only Black graduate of her 2020 graduating class at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine. She was also the only Black woman ever selected as a sole valedictorian within the faculty, and the only Black resident in her training cohort at the university’s department of psychiatry.
It was these experiences that drive Chika’s mission to address inequities within healthcare and see the advancement of the Black community and beyond. She has become a vocal advocate for improving disparities in Black health and confronting institutional discrimination, so that others do not have to face the same obstacles and burdens as she did being “a first”.
For Chika’s championship of inclusion, diversity, and the empowerment of marginalized voices, Time magazine named her one of their “2021 Next Generation Leaders.” In a profile with Time, Chika said that at first she wasn’t sure if she wanted to share her story or experience, as she had been told that she may face difficulty if she challenged the status quo. Ultimately, she agreed to because she believed her story may help others.
Chika became the public face of U of T’s Black Student Application Program (BSAP), which ensures that Black faculty, physicians, and students are involved in the admission process to counteract the long-standing lack of Black decision-makers leading admissions. As a result, 2020 saw U of T’s Faculty of Medicine admit the largest group of Black medical students in Canadian history, a reflection of the success of the BSAP and the power of Oriuwa’s narrative to create paradigm shifts in powerful spaces.
Currently a resident doctor in psychiatry at U of T, Chika is seeking further specialist training in neuro-psychiatry and neuro-inflammatory diseases.
“I had a Black female patient on [a] psychiatry [rotation],” Oriuwa told Time, “and she had actually started crying because she’d never seen a Black female doctor. That was a moment, just recognizing how uniquely situated I would be in psychiatry, where Black patients get differential treatment.”
Time magazine writes that according to a study on anti-Black discrimination against people with mental illness, “there is a ‘crisis’ of misdiagnosis, confinement, and silencing in Canada.” Oriuwa addresses these issues through clinical papers and conferences. She also works with the provincial government on the Ontario Black Youth Action Plan, which works to create increased opportunities for Black children and families. Chika also sits on the medical advisory board for Made of Millions, a global health organization combatting the stigma of mental health care.
“What gets me through it is remembering my ‘why’ moments,” Oriuwa said to Time. “I get a message from someone in a different corner of the world, and people who say that I’ve inspired them to pursue medicine. People who never thought they could become a doctor but heard my story and felt inspired to apply.”
Hear more from Chika in the video below:
Dedicated to the mentorship of racialized youth and the advancement of the Black community and beyond, Dr. Chika Stacy Oriuwa speaks to addressing inequities and advancing efforts in wellness and mental health, diversity and inclusion, and women empowerment.
Interested in learning more about Chika and what she can bring to your next event as a motivational speaker? Email us at [email protected].