I felt in some ways that I had limited opportunities because of the colour of my skin … But seeing women of colour in the pharmacy industry reminded me that I could overcome roadblocks.

JOCELYN BONTI-ANKOMAH, PHARMACY STUDENT

I felt in some ways that I had limited opportunities because of the colour of my skin … But seeing women of colour in the pharmacy industry reminded me that I could overcome roadblocks.

JOCELYN BONTI-ANKOMAH, PHARMACY STUDENT

PAVING THE WAY FOR WOMEN OF COLOUR

Growing up as an African Canadian woman in Ottawa, Jocelyn Bonti-Ankomah didn’t see many people who looked like her working in health care roles.

“I felt in some ways that I had limited opportunities because of the colour of my skin – that I wouldn’t be able to achieve my goals or reach success because I was a woman and African Canadian,” she says. “But seeing women of colour in the pharmacy industry reminded me that I could overcome roadblocks.”

Today, Jocelyn is doing just that. She’s a second-year pharmacy student and the first recipient of the Rexall Pharmacy Group ULC Community Involvement Award. This new award recognizes Black or Indigenous undergraduate students with a strong history of volunteering in their community who demonstrate the values of integrity, customer service, accountability, respect and excellence.

Jocelyn hopes to become the kind of practitioner that inspired her to pursue pharmacy. Through her volunteering, work and co-op experiences, she’s already making an impact. From supporting residents and staff in retirement communities to volunteering at the Ghana Language and Culture School she attended as a child, she values giving back to her community.

Jocelyn was attracted to a career in health care after watching her grandmother struggle with uncontrolled diabetes. “Seeing her situation made me interested in pharmacy – I wanted to be part of the profession that could educate patients on medication and contribute to positive therapeutic outcomes.”

Her volunteer experiences at an Ottawa retirement residence further motivated Jocelyn to focus on geriatrics. She saw first-hand what a difference medication, education and personalized care can make for vulnerable seniors.

For Rexall, establishing the award was both about supporting the practitioners of tomorrow and about acknowledging the importance of diversity and inclusion throughout pharmacy education.

“We want to make an impact and a difference,” says Tracy Paulo-Brown, Rexall’s Director, Talent Attraction and Diversity. “We want to provide opportunities to make education more accessible where systemic racism is present. Awards and bursaries are one way we can help support people and work to dismantle that.”

For Jocelyn, the award is also a chance to elevate others.

“This award isn't only for me, but also for other women of colour,” she says. “I want to encourage them to fulfill their goals and remind them that their skin colour is not an obstacle.”

Adapted from a story by Alana Rigby

COLLABORATING TO CHANGE HOW WE VALUE WATER

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