Summer Mentorship Program

Temertry Faculty of Medicine

History & Background

The Summer Mentorship Program (SMP) was founded in 1994 by the Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto and the Toronto District School Board, together with the Association for the Advancement of Blacks in the Health Sciences, an organization started at the university.  SMP is a four-week program designed to provide Black, Indigenous and low socioeconomic status high school students with the opportunity to improve academic performance and gain experience in the university environment.  A key focus of the program is to encourage students to pursue post-secondary education in healthcare fields.

In running the SMP, the Faculty of Medicine’s Office of Health Professions Student Affairs works with various faculties and programs at the university, along with its’ hospital affiliates and other associations to provide programming highlighting:  dentistry, kinesiology and physical education, medical radiation sciences, medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant, public health, rehabilitation sciences, social work and speech-language pathology.

(Adapted from:

Rehabilitation Sciences Day

The Departments of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Speech-Language Pathology have been supporting SMP for many years. This year, due to the evolving pandemic, SMP was delivered remotely as an on-line program on Friday, July 10th. Despite this challenge, thanks to the collaborative effort among the three departments and the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute, the session continued to be one of the highlights of the SMP program.

Stephanie Nixon, Department of Physical Therapy, Barry Trentham and Sachi Wijekoon, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, Susan J. Wagner, Department of Speech-Language Pathology, Angela Colantonio, Rehabilitation Sciences Institute and the SMP team of Xinran Liu, Carleigh Clarke and Petra Famiyeh led the development and coordination of the day that was designed and delivered along with colleagues and students. The Rehabilitation Sciences day aims to encourage Black and Indigenous students’ to explore diverse career possibilities in the field of rehabilitation. During the day, faculty, working professionals and students from various rehabilitation fields introduced their professions to SMP students.  At the same time, the session created a great platform for mentorship and connection, which are key themes of the SMP program. In the joint opening, students were asked to reflect on their definition of a superhero, specifically, a healthcare superhero. Then students were introduced to careers in physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology and rehabilitation science in interactive sessions. The day circled back to the idea of healthcare superhero and ended with an inspirational note that all students have the potential to become one.

The speech-language pathology session involved a short introduction to the profession and requirements for entering the University of Toronto program given by Asha Shelton, SLP, Scarborough Health Network – Birchmount Hospital and alumna. This was followed by small group sessions where an SLP shared her professional journey, including challenges and opportunities. Lori Davis – Hill, Director, Six Nations Health Services and alumna, shared her story with First Nations students. Likewise, Andrea Benjamin Coke, Chief SLP and Clinical Placement Site Coordinator, Toronto Catholic District School Board; Adjunct Lecturer, Department of Speech-Language Pathology and alumna; Asha Shelton, SLP, Scarborough Health Network – Birchmount Hospital and alumna; Lisa Kakonge, Clinical Placement Site Coordinator and SLP, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and Lecturer (Status-Only), Department of Speech- Language Pathology and Yvonne Wyndham, SLP, Toronto District School Board shared their stories with students of African ancestry.Hillary Ganek, President, SLP Alumni Association and Ph.D. alumna, along with current Year 2 students Hosnia Souley Dosso, Shukri Nur, Jordan Barberio and Batoul El Sayah provided support during these on-line small group sessions.

SMP students found the day informative, engaging and inspirational. A big thanks to all involved for an amazing day! We look forward to reprising the session next year.

Applications for summer 2021 will open in fall 2020. For further information on SMP, please go to:


Susan J. Wagner
Associate Professor, Teaching Stream
Coordinator of Clinical Education