Zion Lee (Kenneth Carter Award) on the advantages of universal access to healthcare

CST Graduate Award winner Zion Lee

Zion approaches his future with equal parts excitement and humour. He acknowledges outright that his parents are quite surprised with the way he turned out. He was a rebellious teenager and his parents, immigrants from Hong Kong, considered him an unlikely candidate for university. However, Zion credits the support of his parents and his brother for the success he has found now that he has chosen to apply his talents to an academic career.  This support has come with considerable sacrifice since Zion describes his family as low income. Zion expands, “It's been a journey just to continue to support one another and continue to emphasize the importance of education, considering our financial circumstances.”

With the help of his Kenneth Carter Award from the Canadian Scholarship Trust Foundation, Zion is starting his Doctor of Dental Surgery at Western. He considers dentistry the perfect avenue for combining his interests in Arts and Science with giving back to the community. “Dentistry is a field where you can focus on the artistry behind the teeth, enhance the smile of your patient, really adding joy to his or her life.”  Zion is also quick to acknowledge the story behind the smile. His experience gained from setting up a mobile dental services unit in rural Honduras has taught him that access to dental care is essential to overall health, “as oral health diseases can be a significant indicator of underlying comorbidities as well.” Returning from Honduras, he realized that access to quality dental care is a universal challenge. He explains, “There are a lot of Canadians in our society still, whether they are minorities, whether they are low income families, or whether they are newly arrived refugees who actually don't have the access they need.”

Accessibility will be a defining factor upon which Zion will shape his future, as will a big-picture view of health and success.  He will build a dental practice that welcomes patients who are facing barriers to accessing oral health care, “so they don’t have to struggle to receive something that is so important to their overall well-being.” Zion understands first-hand the power of support and accessibility.  He will take these values along with him on his journey to becoming a better leader and globally-minded health-care practitioner.