Sep 12, 2022

Honouring a Friendship and Supporting New Generations of Black Medical Students

Education, Alumni, Faculty & Staff, Giving, Inclusion & Diversity
Tracy Barber and Marjorie Sorrell
By Deanna Cheng

Tracy Barber (BA’86) has always wanted to have a positive impact on her community.

It’s a commitment that has shaped everything she does, including her career working in digital communications with climate action and health care organizations, as well as founding and running a pilates studio for 12 years. Today, she works as a staff member at the University of Toronto, advising students in the Masters of Mathematical Finance Program.

Recently, Tracy decided to expand her impact in a new way: making a monthly gift in support of an award for Black medical students in U of T’s Temerty Faculty of Medicine.

“This is a small way that I can support somebody who might not have had the same opportunities that I had growing up,” says Tracy. “I just want to see people be successful, as they are, for who they are."

Her commitment came about thanks to a cherished friendship. Just over 20 years ago, Tracy was introduced to Marjorie Sorrell at a ballet class and the two became fast friends. Tracy would regularly attend lunches with Marjorie. One day, Marjorie’s sister Beverley and Beverley’s husband, pioneering surgeon Dr. John Douglas Salmon (MD’55), joined them.

Tracy remembers her lunch with Dr. Salmon well.

“Doug was an incredibly charismatic individual – so kind and welcoming.” said Tracy, who is also an alumna of the University of Toronto Mississauga. “He had a smile that could light up a room.”

As one of only four Black students in his U of T medical school class, Dr. Salmon worked part time as a draftsman and a pianist to pay his way through school. Thanks, in part, to a scholarship awarded for Black medical students, he received his medical degree and went on to pursue training as a general surgeon. Not long after, he became Canada’s first Black physician to complete a surgical fellowship and went on to have a decades-long impactful career at Scarborough's Centenary Hospital and Toronto’s Rudd Clinic before retiring in 1997.

Following his passing in 2005, his family established the Dr. John Douglas Graham Salmon Award for Black Medical Students at U of T. Since 2006, the award has provided financial aid to Black MD students.

Tracy is quick to point out that monthly giving isn’t only convenient for her, but also helpful to the University.

“Organizations rely on sustaining gifts,” says Tracy. “It makes giving easy – I don’t have to think about it – but I also can’t forget that I am a part of something larger. This one small gesture can have a great impact on someone’s life.”