“I spent much of my first six years in the hospital. As a young child, I considered the hospital nurses to be like close family members. I still remember their names,” says Lynch, a child of immigrant parents and a Scarborough native. Today he is Managing Director and Head of Global Real Estate Investments at TD Asset Management and co-founder of the Black Opportunity Fund, a community-led organization that seeks to improve the social and economic well-being of Canada’s Black communities by funding Black-led not-for-profits, charities and businesses.
While Lynch was struggling with his health as a young boy, Zhou was growing up with her newly immigrated family in a small, subsidized housing unit in Toronto’s Alexandra Park. Mold and unsafe living conditions in her family’s apartment resulted in her experiencing her own health challenges — with repeated respiratory illnesses that required frequent hospitalization.
“Being in the hospital a lot, I could see how people from low-income backgrounds interact with health services on a regular basis,” says Zhou, now assistant professor of family and community medicine in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, as well as an addictions specialist physician at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and a clinical lead at the Don Mills-Eglinton Family Health Organization. “It greatly influenced my decision to study addiction medicine and primary care.”