“I will take action for a better world.”
This line is not only part of the Girl Guides of Canada’s Guiding Promise, but a personal mission statement for Michelle Quaye.
With a little nudge from her mother, Quaye walked into her first Girl Guides meeting at the age of 7. Today, the fourth-year Medical student has spent years as a girl member of Guiding, a Unit Leader for Brownies, and is now serving as the Director-Chair of the National Youth Council.
She’s done all of this and more to live the organization’s mission as a student leader.
“I’m passionate about having a positive impact on the world,” Quaye said. “And rather than just say it, I’ve always wanted to show it.”
On June 19, Quaye will join more than 300,000 Western alumni living around the world as a newly minted graduate and member of the Western Class of 2020.
The second of three children, Quaye and her siblings grew up in downtown Toronto.
Inspired by her father’s passion for science, she headed to Western to begin her Bachelor of Medical Sciences degree. It wasn’t long before her imagination was captured by a course in global development. She quickly realized the opportunities to marry her interests of science, global health and leadership.
After a year studying abroad in the United Kingdom, she became involved as a Welcome Volunteer at Western, interacting with international students. She also worked as a coordinator for International Week with Western Heads East. The volunteer position gave her the opportunity to coordinate a fundraising event and learn more about Western Heads East – and bolstered her interests in global health.
Her interests continued as she began her medical school training. Despite the rigours of the undergraduate medicine curriculum, Quaye took every opportunity to explore her interests in global health.
During her search to learn more she discovered the GlobalMINDS Program, spearheaded by Dr. Arlene MacDougall. A few months later, Quayle found herself in Kenya working to identify solutions to “wicked” mental-health challenges in the country.
Her team’s project would go on to win the semi-finals of World’s Challenge Challenge, a program that recognizes and celebrates projects that present solutions to world problems. In 2018, she competed at the international finals.
At Schulich Medicine, she was elected as the Global Health Liaison for medical students. She joined the Global Health portfolio of the Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS) and during her fours years as a medical student, served as the Local Exchange Officer and the National Officer of Partnerships.
Recently, she was elected and completed a term as the Director of Global Health for the CFMS and served as a representative to the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations.
Reflecting on her interest and work in global health, Quaye says that in the beginning it was recognizing her own cultural background and how it connected her to the world. It grew from there.
“I wanted to build my own world experience and cultural competency,” she said. “It didn’t take me too long to realize that health looks different in low resource settings and that as someone living in an high income country, there may be ways that I can partner with those communities and leverage each other’s strengths to improve health outcomes, access and overall well-being.”
Quaye’s passion for global health led to local opportunities in addition to her international experiences.
Thanks to the Girls on Board program, Quaye applied for a board position for a local social service. She feels fortunate to have been appointed as a young director on the board of Anova in London. The organization provides safe places, shelter, support, counselling, and resources for abused women, their children, and all oppressed individuals to find a new start.
It’s been a busy four years, but Quaye says she has loved every minute of it.
“My education at Schulich Medicine has been an excellent learning experience. I’ve been provided with a lot of great opportunities and I’ve learned a lot about myself and what it means to be a leader,” she said.
Not only has she strengthened her communication, presentation, public speaking and leadership skills, she also realizes how much she is capable of.
She has brought these well-honed skills with her in role she has had with the Middlesex London Health Unit during the COVID-19 pandemic. She’ll put them to further use when she begins her residency in Public Health and Preventive Medicine including Family Medicine in July 2020.
“I’ve been taught that as a physician, I will be seen as a leader with great responsibility. This is something that I don’t take lightly. I’m ambitious and will always strive to do more for those around me,” she said.