A 27-year-old psychiatry resident at the University of Toronto has received an unexpected honour from Mattel — a one-of-a-kind Barbie doll in her name and likeness. Dr. Chika Stacy Oriuwa is among several “modern real-life heroes” on the front lines of the pandemic to receive a custom doll as part of the company’s #ThankYouHeroes initiative.
Given Oriuwa’s inspiring accomplishments, the recognition is well-deserved. She’s the first Black woman to become a standalone valedictorian in the history of her medicine program and is also an accomplished spoken word poet, according to U of T. Oriuwa was the only Black student in her class when she began her studies in 2017.
“Dr. Oriuwa has advocated against systemic racism in healthcare, which has been further highlighted by the pandemic,” Mattel wrote. In an interview with Yahoo News, Oriuwa said that despite all of the encouragement and support she’s received, she’s witnessed a lot of racism and hate online.
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She described one moment that reminded her why she continues to do the work that she does, for the sake of inspiring others. “I was giving a talk at a high school in Brampton…and a young Black girl came up to me and she said, ‘Oh my goodness you are a doctor and if you can be a doctor then I can be a doctor too’. And so during those really, really hard moments where I know I’m putting myself out there, it’s a very vulnerable thing to do and I’m kind of getting backlash for that, I just remind myself that I have this incredible opportunity to inspire a generation,” she said to the outlet.
Oriuwa is thrilled to have her own Barbie and hopes that it inspires a new generation of physicians. “It’s exciting and fun to be seen as a hero,” she said to her university. “At a time when the entire world is turning to scientists and nurses and doctors for answers, I hope there is a continued appreciation for those who have worked so tirelessly on the front lines.”