Zakiya Abdulaziz

From Nursing Excellence to Medical Aspirations: Connor McKinnon’s Journey


In the tranquil town of Thunder Bay, Connor McKinnon stands out as a beacon of hope, dedication, and passion for healthcare. A recent Lakehead University graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, first-class standing, Connor’s journey is a testament to his unyielding commitment to making a difference. As he embarks on a path towards medical school, his focus on community advocacy and networking sets a remarkable example for aspiring healthcare professionals.

Guided by a desire to serve his community, he chose to stay in Thunder Bay, a town with a significant indigenous population. Recognizing the importance of understanding the healthcare needs of indigenous communities, he aimed to gain insights from local and northern experiences before pursuing medicine.


Exploration and Involvement

To gain a holistic perspective of the healthcare industry, Connor has been exploring various facets of the field. He embraced the role of a Personal Support Worker (PSW) at the Regional Health Sciences Centre, gaining hands-on experience in patient care. Simultaneously, he delved into the management side of healthcare, further broadening his understanding of the industry’s intricacies.

Beyond his professional pursuits, Connor’s community involvement is awe-inspiring. Volunteering with the Patient Family Advocacy Board demonstrates his commitment to ensuring patient voices are heard. His dedication goes beyond the hospital walls as he spearheads initiatives like building playgrounds for underprivileged children and collecting donations to spread joy among the less fortunate. These acts of kindness and generosity exemplify his character and values.


A Network of Impact

Connor’s determination to build strong connections is evident through his involvement in student boards and community-focused projects. His participation in the Nursing Student Union during his undergraduate degree and his dedication to the Children with Cancer Camp Quality program for 15 years showcase his desire to contribute to society. His role as a peer counselor highlights his ability to connect with children on a personal level, an invaluable skill in both nursing and medicine.


The Path Forward

With aspirations to become a physician, Connor’s plan to gain some nursing experience before pursuing medical school reflects his wisdom and practicality. By immersing himself in the healthcare setting, he seeks to better understand the intricate dynamics of patient care, which will undoubtedly serve him well in his medical career.

Acknowledging Connor’s dedication to both academia and humanitarian efforts, he was awarded the Walker Wood Award for Leadership and Community Advocacy 4 times throughout his university journey. This recognition gave him the opportunity to focus on his passions and studies, ultimately shaping him into the remarkable individual he is today.



Connor McKinnon’s journey from a first-class standing nursing graduate to a future medical professional is a story of relentless pursuit, compassion, and unwavering dedication to the betterment of society. As he continues to build bridges between healthcare professions and community advocacy, his impact is bound to transcend geographical and cultural boundaries. For those considering a similar path, Connor’s journey is a living testament to the power of perseverance, empathy, and the belief that individuals can create meaningful change in their communities and beyond.

2019 Recipient Biography

Connor McKinnon
Thunder Bay, ON

Connor is a peer councilor for children with cancer and assists in research for other cancer patients at Sick Kids Hospital. At the age of 6 years old Connor was diagnosed with Stage 4, Rhabdomyosarcoma with metastasis.  His parents were told that he had less than three months to live. Connor has learned determination, the act of positive thinking and how important support from others is. He now volunteers to help others get the support they need. Connor is excited to be starting a Bachelor of Nursing at Lakehead University as a stepping-stone to follow his dream of working as a paediatrician.