RCAF officer, medical student recognized as Academic All Canadian

News Article / May 1, 2018

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By Janet Bryson

Captain Stephanie Dennis, a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force from Comox, British Columbia, is a second-year medical student at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She has been recognized as an Academic All Canadian by U Sports, the leader of university sports in Canada.

Academic All Canadian is one of the highest honours a student athlete can receive. To qualify, student athletes must maintain an academic standing of 80 per cent or better while playing on a university varsity team. A former Canadian junior national team member, Captain Dennis swims with the Dalhousie team.

Canadian honorees are also committed to providing service and leadership to their communities, and Captain Dennis is no exception. She began her military career 13 years ago as an officer and, in addition to her service to her country, she has volunteered for a wide variety of initiatives, including the Canadian Armed Forces’ Speakers Bureau, a national outreach program that provides speakers to schools, conferences and organizations throughout the country.

Captain Dennis received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario. After graduation, she earned her wings as a Royal Canadian Air Force navigator, and became the first female instructor to train navigators at 1 Canadian Forces Flying Training School, at 17 Wing Winnipeg, Manitoba. In 2013, after three years of instructing, she was posted to 14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia, where she was the first person to successfully become a tactical navigator on the CP-140 Aurora, a long-range patrol aircraft, immediately out of flight school. During her time on the Aurora, Captain Dennis pursued drug smugglers over the Caribbean region and hunted submarines throughout the Atlantic Ocean, all while pregnant with her first child.

A passion for the benefits of a healthy lifestyle led her to apply to the Canadian Armed Forces’ Medical Officer Training Program in 2015. She was accepted to the program, and Dalhousie’s Faculty of Medicine, in 2016, which meant she had the opportunity to be an active member of the Dalhousie swim team.

“I’ve had such a great experience working with the coaches,” she says, “and I am so inspired by the men and women on the team. They are such dedicated, smart individuals. They are balancing so much between their studies, community work and being on a varsity team. I have so much respect for them.”

She, too, is maintaining a balancing act, and she attributes much of her success to the support of her husband, Scott Dennis. In addition to her studies, commitment to her swim team and to the Canadian Armed Forces, she has a two-year-old son and 10-month-old daughter. In fact, she was pregnant with her daughter in the first year of medical school and brought her to the All Canadian Awards luncheon, holding her in her arms as she accepted her award. “I showed up with my daughter. She had been with me in my belly the whole time I was swimming for the swim team, so she deserved the award as well!”

Captain Dennis would like to work in the area of family medicine and, in her final year of medical school, complete her student research project on the benefits of exercise and pregnancy. “I am always surprised at what you can do if you put your mind to something,” she says. “I am a big believer in taking an opportunity if it is presented to you.”

Janet Bryson is a senior communications advisor with Dalhousie University.

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