Capt Stephanie Dennis recognized as an Academic All Canadian
By Janet Bryson,
Senior Communications Manager,
Communications and Marketing, Dalhousie University
Capt Stephanie Dennis (née Bigelow) a Comox, BC native and second year Dalhousie medical student, has been recognized as an Academic All Canadian by U Sports, the leader of university sports in Canada. An Academic All Canadian is one of the highest honours a student athlete can achieve. To qualify student athletes must maintain an academic standing of 80% or better while playing on a university varsity team. A former Canadian junior national team member, Capt Dennis swims on the Dalhousie swim team.
All Canadian honourees are also committed to providing service and leadership to their communities.
Capt 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 CAF Speakers bureau – a national outreach program that provides speakers to schools, conferences, and organizations across the country.
Capt Dennis received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario. After graduation, she earned her wings as an Air Force Navigator and became the first female instructor to train Air Force Navigators at 1 Canadian Forces Flying Training School at CFB Winnipeg. After three years of instructing, Capt Dennis was posted to Nova Scotia where she was the first person to successfully become a Tactical Navigator immediately out of flight school on the CP-140 Aurora, a long-range patrol aircraft. During her time on the Aurora, Capt Dennis chased drug smugglers over the Caribbean, hunted submarines throughout the Atlantic Ocean, and all while pregnant with her first child.
A passion for the benefits of a healthy lifestyle led Capt Dennis to apply to the CAF Medical Officer Training Program. She was accepted to the program and Dalhousie’s Faculty of Medicine in 2016. It also meant that Capt Dennis had an opportunity to be an active member of the Dalhousie swim team.
“I’ve had such a great experience working with the coaches, including Lance Cansdale our head coach,” says Capt Dennis. “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.”
Capt Dennis is also managing 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 CAF, she also has a two-year-old son, Eric, and 10-month-old daughter, Freya. In fact, Capt Dennis was pregnant with Freya 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!”
Capt Dennis would like to work in the area of family medicine and in her final year of medical school would like to 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. I am a big believer in taking an opportunity if it is presented to you.”