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The Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Blog Diversity Week 2022 Brings Students Together, Teaches Important Lessons

By Lisa Ryan

Diversity Week 2022 - Around the World Event

Diversity Week 2022, the College of Medicine’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’s annual event promoting diversity in medical education and in the health care field, had a variety of offerings that provided education and championed equity and inclusion.

MD Program student leaders came together to help organize a week’s worth of events in late February, with gatherings taking place online and in person on both the Queen Lane and West Reading campuses.

“Diversity Week was a huge success; many students came together, met new people, and learned about each other and the local community, all while having fun and making a difference,” said student organizer Michelle Ehiriodo, Class of 2025. “Feedback from classmates was overwhelmingly positive and they are already anticipating next year’s events.”

This year’s events included speed-dating style networking, and a community service project to support Philadelphians dealing with homelessness. Two events focused on medical topics, viewed through the lens of diversity: Philadelphia-area dermatologist Aliana James, MD, PhD, gave a presentation entitled “Skin of Color” on Monday, and on Tuesday, students could participate in a seizure recognition and first aid course.

Serin Varughese, MD Program Class of 2024, served as a Diversity Week co-coordinator, and said that students had the opportunity through Dr. James’ presentation to learn about dermatological concerns and how they present on different skin tones. Many educational and training resources predominantly portray white patients, which can lead to poor outcomes for patients of color.

“We hope that students were able to walk away from the presentation with a better understanding of some of the nuances in the clinical presentation of different dermatologic conditions or changes in different skin tones,” Varughese said. “We also hope they learned more about the lack of representation that exists within medical education and feel empowered to push for real, actionable change within our own institutions and communities.”

Later in the week, 14 student organizations came together for the traditional “Around the World” event, a showcase of different cultures and an opportunity to learn about varied identities. Event attendees find a mix of fun and hands-on learning opportunities, according to student organizers.

“I helped to run the Latino Medical Student Association table, where we had games like flag and country matching, guess the song genre, and medical Spanish quizzes,” said Julianna Kinsolving, MD Program Class of 2025. “During the event we were able to try out foods from different countries, take mini dance lessons, and so much more! It went phenomenally, and really brought everyone together to have a good time.”

Varughese said she had fun at the event and was proud of how it turned out.

“I thought it was a really wonderful opportunity to explore a bit more about each culture and for students to learn more about the amazing student organizations on their campuses,” she said. “The event gave us a chance to come together with classmates and share food and laughs, and really enjoy the diversity that makes our student body so incredible.”

Take a look at photos from Around the World!

Kinsolving was heartened to see high turnout for each of the week’s events, which she said not only showed support for the student organizers’ efforts, but also reflects how much students value diversity and inclusion. She hopes some of the students who enjoyed this year’s events will get involved in planning Diversity Week 2023.

“I hope that students see how awesome it is when people with the same goals and passions of advocating for diversity come together, create unique events, and support each other in our efforts,” she said.

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