8T8 Alum Ian Stewart photographed at his Shoppers Drug Mart location

Ian Stewart and Shoppers Drug Mart have joined forces to support prospective Black students at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy by establishing the Ian Stewart/Shoppers Drug Mart Award for Black Pharmacy Students.

Their $50,000 combined gift will support one Black student entering their first year of the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program who demonstrates a commitment to community volunteering as well as financial need.

“I like to motivate students to be the best they can be,” said Stewart, who graduated from the Faculty’s Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy program in 1988. “I want Black youth to understand that pharmacy is a great career and a well-respected profession. To help them achieve a great outcome — either through motivational coaching or financial support — is rewarding to me.”

Stewart gave his first $12,500 gift in August 2015 to establish the Afro-Canadian Scholarship. Last summer he made a second $25,000 gift pledge, which inspired Shoppers Drug Mart to match his contribution with their own $25,000 contribution to the award. This match doubled the amount each Ian Stewart/Shoppers Drug Mart Award for Black Pharmacy Students recipient will receive and endowed the award to ensure a lasting legacy.

“The Afro-Canadian Scholarship has allowed me to focus on my academics with less financial stress,” said Victoria Ezekwemba, a PharmD student (2T3) and first generation Nigerian-Canadian who hopes to open her own pharmacy. “I want to play an active role in the health-care system as someone who is on the frontline of delivering care to patients. Pharmacy allows me to do just that and I’m grateful to Mr. Stewart for his support.”

The University of Toronto identified Black and Indigenous students as underrepresented in the university community, especially within health-care professions. With the support of generous donors like Stewart, scholarships like this one will help ensure that financial resources are not a barrier to accessing education.

“Accessible excellence is a top priority of our Faculty and a core value of the university. We’re working hard not only to continue to attract the best and brightest students, but also to ensure no promising student is unable to pursue their degree because of an inability to pay,” said Professor Lisa Dolovich, Dean of the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy.

Dolovich and Stewart were classmates, graduating from the Faculty in the same year. Stewart has served as Pharmacist-Owner of a Shoppers Drug Mart in West Toronto since 1993. He’s a strong advocate for youth — particularly those from under-represented communities — and an active member of the profession and the community, serving on the Board of Directors of numerous industry associations, organizations and not-for-profits.

“Giving back to the community is important to us,” said Ashesh Desai, Executive Vice President, Pharmacy and Healthcare at Shoppers Drug Mart, and LDFP alumnus (BScPhm 0T1). “Our customers and patients must see themselves reflected in our stores and in our associates. Supporting student diversity is one important step that we can take towards this goal and we’re pleased to support Ian and the Faculty with this award.”

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