Justen Wilmot is delivering a speech on stage. He is wearing a maroon long sleeve shirt and a blue lanyard.
Thursday, June 6, 2024

Opportunity knocks to study medicine in the Caribbean for 2024 Class Valedictorian

By Sharon McFarlane 

Senior Advancement Communications Officer 

Justen is giving the thumbs up. He is standing in front of a poster presentation of his research.

It’s 3,300 kilometres from the University of Waterloo to the Caribbean’s Saba University School of Medicine but this year’s Faculty of Science Valedictorian, Justen Wilmot (BSc ’24 Biomedical Sciences, Medical Physiology minor), is looking forward to the long trek to fulfil his dream of pursuing a career in medicine.

Wilmot acknowledges that studying medicine in another country might not be for everyone, but with stiff competition for spots at Canadian medical schools, he thinks it’s a great option. “I was lucky enough to get the Future Physician Scholarship, the highest Saba offers,” Wilmot says, “After two years in the Caribbean, I can do the next two years of clinical experience in the US or back here in Canada. My goal is to return to Canada as a physician in the field of cardiology.”

The Faculty of Science has recently partnered with several international medical schools, including Saba University School of Medicine, that provide qualified Faculty of Science students with a guaranteed interview, as well as the opportunity for substantial scholarships.

A native of Kitchener-Waterloo, Wilmot had two years of biotechnology studies under his belt from a local college, then chose the University of Waterloo for its academic reputation in science and undergraduate research opportunities. Of further interest was the abundance of extracurricular activities he could participate in.

“I’ve been a member of the Pre-Med Club, the Brain Exercise Initiative Club, UW Undergraduate Research Club as well as several intramural sports teams”, Wilmot says, “You need to have fun, get involved and meet people. There are so many resources here at Waterloo.”  Wilmot also started the UWaterloo Blood and Stem Cell Drive for Science, an initiative that encourages students to participate in blood donation drives and sign up for Canada’s Stem Cell Registry.

Wilmot attributes his initial interest in the field of medicine to the passing of his long-time friend from a brain tumour at a young age.  He helps organize the 3v3 Kumar Classic, Ontario’s largest charity 3v3 basketball tournament in honour of Jay Kumar, with proceeds going to the Brain Tumor Foundation of Canada. He says it’s a great way to connect with the community as well as tell his friend’s story of strength and courage.

During his undergraduate studies at Waterloo, Wilmot pursued research internships in both the Faculties of Health and Engineering, expanding his interests in respiratory and cardiac research. He recently received an NSERC URA grant and will spend his summer on campus working with Dr. Marc Aucoin before saying goodbye to his family and leaving his dog, an Australian Shepard named Winsten, in their care until he returns.

“I’m excited for this opportunity,” he says, “You can’t take anything for granted in life. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and I’m ready to make a difference.”