RCAF Captain named Academic All-Canadian

Captain Stephanie Dennis and her daughter
Captain Stephanie Dennis and her daughter Freya attend the Academic All Canadian sports awards luncheon. Freya is wearing a tiger costume in reference to the Dalhousie mascot. Photo: Trident

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By Janet Bryson, Dalhousie University – Trident

Captain Stephanie Dennis, a second year Dalhousie University medical student, has been recognized as an Academic All-Canadian by U Sports, the national governing body of university sports in Canada.

A former Canadian junior national team member, Capt Dennis swims on the Dalhousie swim team. 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 percent or better. All-Canadian honourees are also committed to providing service and leadership to their communities.

Capt Dennis began her military career 13 years ago as an officer. In addition to her service to her country, she has volunteered for a wide variety of initiatives, including the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Speakers bureau – a national outreach program providing speakers to events across the country.

After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario, Capt Dennis earned her wings as an Air Force Navigator. She became the first female instructor to train Air Force Navigators at 1 Canadian Forces Flying Training School at CFB Winnipeg.

A posting to Nova Scotia followed. Here, 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, 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. This also meant that she had the 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. “I am so inspired by the men and women on the team. They are balancing so much between their studies, community work and being on a varsity team.”

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 a 10-month-old daughter, Freya.

In fact, Capt Dennis was pregnant with Freya in the first year of medical school. She brought her to the All-Canadian Awards luncheon, holding her as she accepted her award. “My daughter had been with me in my belly the whole time I was swimming for the swim team, so she deserved the award as well,” she said.

Capt Dennis wants to work in the area of family medicine and complete her research project on the benefits of exercise during pregnancy.

Image gallery

  • Captain Stephanie Dennis (centre) swimming
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