Diversity & Inclusion MattersFebruary 1, 2018

Winter 2018

Vice Dean's Message

Year in Review

Pathways to Medicine: Lisette Rodriguez-Cabezas, MD

Pathways to Feinberg: Mita Goel, MD

Alumni Column: Javier Guevara ’12 MD

Research Spotlight: Diversity Research Roundup

Recent Happenings

From the Vice Dean, Diversity and Inclusion

New York Times columnist Charles Blow, who delivered the keynote address at this year’s commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr., with fourth-year medical student Edernst Noncent, winner of the MLK Oratorical Competition.  

Welcome to our first newsletter of 2018. We have now completed three years of a fully recalibrated and committed focus on Feinberg’s dedication to Diversity and Inclusion. Along the way, we have heard from many varied internal and external voices, and we have welcomed both the supportive and critical appraisals of our work. Thank you — through your feedback we are better, and we will continue to grow and in turn continue to diligently serve our community.

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Year in Review

Take a walk down memory lane by viewing highlights from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion throughout the last academic year here. 

Pathways to Medicine: Lisette Rodriguez-Cabezas, MD

Many stories I have heard from fellow doctors and medical students involved them knowing they wanted to be doctors for as long as they can remember. This was not my experience. Many of them knew this so young because they had family members, usually parents, who were in medicine, and they longed to follow in their footsteps. I didn’t have any family members who were in medicine. However, I knew I wanted to do something that involved science because for as long as I can remember it was my favorite subject.

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Pathway to Feinberg: Mita Goel, MD

I was, am, and probably always will be a Jersey girl. If you need empiric evidence supporting that statement, know that my varsity letter is in bowling. So how did I wind up in internal medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine? I believe it was the cumulative result of a series of experiences that each taught me a different value or lesson.

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Alumni Column: Javier Guevara ’12 MD

Medicine was always the career I wanted. I never imagined how cumbersome becoming a doctor could be, but I also did not foresee how rewarding it would be.

One day when I was 4 or 5 years old, while my grandmother was watching over me, I stood up abruptly from playing with my toys worried about something. When my grandmother asked what was wrong, I told her I was worried I was not going to have enough time to pick up my two children from school, see my patients and prepare sermon for mass. For I have always wanted to be four things in life: a father of two, a doctor, a priest and a teacher.

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Research Spotlight: Diversity Research Roundup

Interventions in the Real World
Investigators are working closely with community partners to address healthcare challenges in Chicagoland and beyond. Read about some of their work in a Northwestern Medicine magazine feature here.

Medical Students Tackle Health Disparities
Apoorva Ram strives to reduce cardiovascular health disparities among South Asian Americans in both her research and her volunteer work, while Nicolás Francone focuses on Hispanic Communities through his passion for advocacy. 


High Diabetes Risk for Black Adults Is Driven by Obesity, Not Mystery
A new study found that black and white populations have similar risk for developing diabetes when all biological factors are considered, upending a long-held consensus.

Racial and Ethnic Disparities Worsen in Live Donor Kidney Transplantation
Racial and ethnic disparities in live donor kidney transplantation have significantly increased over the last two decades, highlighting the need for national efforts to reduce disparities, according to a recent study.

Recent Happenings

2018 MLK Commemoration

Fourth-year medical student Edernst Noncent, winner of the 2018 MLK Oratorical Competition, delivered his speech before keynote speaker Charles Blow, New York Times columnist, took the stage. Noncent, of Haitian decent and a recent U.S. citizen, responded to the following King quotes: “Tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there ‘is’ such a thing as being too late. This is not time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action,” and “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

In the spirit of encouraging members of the Feinberg community to tell their stories, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion released a video in which faculty members share what diversity and inclusion means to them. Read Feinberg’s coverage of the MLK commemoration here, and read a full transcript of Noncent’s speech here.

Cabrini Green Documentary Screening

Former and current Cabrini Green residents and the producer of 70 Acres in Chicago: Cabrini Green engaged with the audience following a screening of the documentary. From left to right, Ronit Bezalel, film co-producer; Tara Stamps, community organizer and educator at Jenner Elementary of the Arts; Mark Pratt, film co-producer; Raymond McDonald, community organizer who still lives at Cabrini Green; Deidre Brewster, public policy and community development organizing consultant/human rights and housing activist. Kiarri Kershaw, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of Preventive Medicine, served as the panel moderator.

HPREP Launches

Health Professions Recruitment and Exposure Program (HPREP) is a five-week educational and exposure program for high school students of diverse backgrounds. Hosted by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the program’s goal is to provide students firsthand exposure to the medical school curriculum, career options in healthcare and tools for academic success. One day of the five-week program is dedicated to physical therapy (PT) led by PT student, Matthew Montgomery.

This year’s program began January 13 and enrolled 41 students. Two students groups, Student National Medical Association (SNMA) and Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA), led by first-year students Omar Bushara and Nicolas Francone, spearheaded the program.

Providing a recap of the introductory session, Bushara shared, “Several M1 representatives from LMSA and SNMA were excited to welcome 41 high school students to HPREP. Through a day of building both clinical skills, as well as relationships with mentors, the students gained valuable insight into their potential futures as medical professionals. We are eager to watch the students continue their growth in the coming weeks as we discuss medical ethics, have conversations with residents, experience the anatomy lab and end with capstone presentations.”

Women’s March

MD Class of 2021 members Celeste Witting, Sasha Kurumety and Nikita Saladi, left to right, were among the estimated 300,000 individuals who joined forces to rally for equal rights for all during the Women’s March in Chicago on January 20th. "The march was important to encourage continued resilience and togetherness against forces that strive to break us down and tear us apart,” Witting shared.

Alliance of Chicago Minority Students (ACMS)

A new graduate student organization founded on building community through service engagement, professional development and fun social events, the ACMS recently donated more than $600 of clothes and canned goods to Cornerstone Community Outreach in Chicago and hosted a mixer for the Chicago Youth Program where middle-school students connected with Northwestern students through icebreakers, trust-building activities and speed “getting-to-know-you” exercises, concluding with board games and pizza. Pictured, Chicago Youth Programs Chief Program Officer Monique Cook-Bey, MS Ed, leads middle schoolers in a soul train line “speed-getting-to-know-you” activity.

Holloway Delivers Diversity and Inclusion Lyceum Lecture

Jonathan Holloway, PhD, provost of Northwestern University and a historian specializing in post-emancipation United States history, delivered the Fall Diversity and Inclusion Lyceum Lecture. He provided a historical overview of African-Americans in majority white universities during his address, “The Price of Recognition: Race and the Making of the Modern University.” He also spoke personally of progress and his optimism for the future. Read a recap of the event here.

Have an idea for the newsletter or a comment on this issue? Would you like your research to be featured? Are you an alumnus who would like to share your experience?

Contact Ian Martinez at ian.martinez@northwestern.edu.