chika oriuwa

Only one medical student in her year at U of T is Black but she's graduating as valedictorian

Chika Oriuwa is the only Black medical student at U of T out of a class of 259, and she's graduating as valedictorian.

How's that for some uplifting news right about now? Oriuwa was also an incredibly active part of the Black Student Application Program and Black Medical Student Association during her time at U of T, and her recruitment efforts helped to ensure 14 or 15 Black students will be part of future graduating classes.

"Such an incredibly surreal honour. Excited to be named the Valedictorian of the Class of 2020 @uoftmedicine," Oriuwa tweeted in April. "Endless gratitude to my peers for the opportunity to represent this cohort of brilliant physicians!"

A poet and captivating speaker who gave a memorable keynote speech in 2018 at Women's College Hospital for International Women's Day, Oriuwa developed a deeper passion for public speaking, mentorship, advocacy and psychiatry during her years at the University of Toronto.

Unfortunately Oriuwa will not be able to cross the stage, give her valedictorian's speech to a real audience or attend a planned party with hundreds of guests, but her pre-recorded speech will be delivered virtually on June 2.

She's one of the first Black women to be valedictorian at U of T, and the first woman since 2006.

Update: Chika Oriuwa is the second Black female valedictorian in the history of U of T's Faculty of Medicine, following Kristine Whitehead in 1992.

Lead photo by

John Packman for the Canadian Medical Association


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