Photo cred: Joni Dufour

Week 41: Anika Maraj


Please tell us a little bit about yourself. 


Hi! I’m a psychiatrist-in-training and avid sports enthusiast. I grew up in the GTA, I have lived in various cities across Ontario, and currently call Montreal home. I studied kinesiology in university and then stumbled into medicine. Growing up, I played many different sports but basketball has always been the one closest to my heart. The lessons that were taught and the relationships that were fostered through sport have been the most influential in my life.


What are you passionate about? How did you discover your passion?  


I’m passionate about investing in others, though the form it takes has evolved over the years.

From community sports programs for children, to literacy initiatives, to global activism, I have always been interested in creating opportunities for others. These days, this passion takes the form of mental health services research (how can we improve care for vulnerable populations) and coaching youth basketball.


How has sport helped you be a better leader? How do you define leadership?


I think leadership is about bringing people together in an environment that allows everyone to thrive as you work together towards a common goal. It’s about dedication to a vision and inspiring and supporting others along the way.


Sports has helped me recognize that everyone has different strengths (and weaknesses), and your best chance of success is by helping others shine. It has taught me to recognize and appreciate the strength in collaboration, to be open to new ideas and that hard work pays off.


What kind of barriers have you overcome in your life? What skills did you learn in sport that have helped you overcome these barriers?  


Growing up as a shy child of working-class immigrant parents was a challenging task at times. Luckily, I fell in love with sport and it helped me build self-confidence, it gave me an identity and direction, and connected me to mentors who have supported me ever since those awkward adolescent years.


Even more, education was the priority in my household, which I am very grateful for, but my academic successes have been very much linked to sport. Sport taught me skills that allowed me to be successful both inside and outside of the classroom. From the “small” things (like being on time, coming prepared, and following instructions), to the “big” things (like how to be a team player, persistence, and work ethic), these lessons have been the keys to my success.