Student Spotlight – Ola Olatona

UBC MSc Rehabilitation Sciences Candidate

READI Committee Coordinator


Ola Olatona is an aspiring medical professional. Her work with the UBC Department of Orthopaedics has focused on creating respectful, diverse, and inclusive learning and working environments via her involvement with the Department’s respect, equity, accessibility, diversity, and inclusion (READI) committee. She is in the final stages of completing her MSc in Rehabilitation Sciences at UBC.

Can you share a little bit about your educational background and journey, and how you got to where you are today?

From a really young age, I have been set on becoming a medical doctor. At first, it just seemed like one of the typical answers to the “what do you want to be when you grow up?”. In Nigerian households, we love to joke that there are only 3 answers to that question – lawyer, engineer, or doctor. As I progressed through grade school, I found myself continually fascinated by all things science. I loved the fact that there was always something new to be learned and/or discovered. Outside of school, I also had the opportunity to participate in a bunch of different sports and volunteer in different roles as time allowed.

A lot of my interests followed me into my undergrad as I began my BSc in Neuroscience at the University of Lethbridge in the Fall of 2016. In my four years in Lethbridge prior to the start of the pandemic in 2020, my time was split between school, work, volunteer commitments, and being a varsity athlete. At the height of the pandemic, I decided that I wanted to challenge myself a little further and complete my master’s before applying to medical school. So, in the summer of 2020, I moved to Vancouver on my own to pursue a MSc in Rehab Sciences here at UBC. My time at UBC so far has opened so many more opportunities for growth and new interests than I had ever imagined.

What inspired your work with the UBC Department of Orthopaedics, specifically with Dr. Bonita Sawatzky and our READI Committee?

On many occasions, I have felt and witnessed what it is like to be in an environment where the principles of respect, equity, accessibility, diversity and inclusion, are not fostered. To be the only person of colour in some of my academic spheres can sometimes be a little lonely and intimidating to say the least. I love looking for ways to support positive change and growth within the communities that I live, work and play in! So, when the opportunity was presented to me to assist Bonnie with promoting READI within orthopedics, I was beyond excited to be a part of the positive change taking place within the Department.

What excites you most about the work that you’re doing with UBC Orthopaedics?

So far, I have been most excited about the progress that the committee has made. Though we started out slow, there have been a lot of small changes that have made a big impact in the Department. I have enjoyed putting together the READI spotlight series, setting up the READI scholarships and overall helping find ways to increase READI principles within the environment. Most of all I am looking forward to even more growth within the Department!

When you’re not working, where can we find you?

When I am not working, you can find me usually doing some sort of physical activity whether it’s working out at the gym, snowboarding or trying out new activities. My main thing for this year is really just taking the time to explore and see what the world has to offer. When I’m not working out, I am spending time with friends and family, trying to plan my next vacation or consuming abnormally large amounts of ice cream!

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