Amazing! OUWB Diversity Week deemed ‘huge success’
An image of students at the Diversity Week block party
OUWB medical students take time out for a photo at the multicultural (indoor) block party held Oct. 13, 2023.

OUWB’s second Diversity Week culminated with an indoor block party event on Friday, wrapping up five days of “engaging sessions, thought-provoking discussions, and amazing cultural showcases.”

Events held throughout the week ranged from a kick-off reception on Monday, several sessions centered on diversity-related topics and issues, a special “dinner with a doc,” and more.

The week was a “huge success,” according to Tonya Bailey, Ph.D., associate dean, Diversity & Inclusion and Community Engagement.

“We had engaging sessions, thought-provoking discussions, and amazing cultural showcases,” she said. “It was another way that allowed our diverse community to get together and celebrate our uniqueness.”

Bailey said it’s important to note OUWB’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion extends well beyond the week.

“It’s our hope that the celebration and education of our diverse cultures will continue every day,” she said. “It’s important for everyone in our OUWB community to know that they matter therefore we will continue to strive for a campus where everyone feels a sense of belonging, valued, and included.”

Immersed in diversity

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Nearly 100 students, staff, and faculty attended the Monday kickoff of OUWB’s second Diversity Week. Speakers at the event were Bailey, Joey Solomon, M2, president of OUWB Medical Student Government, and Chris Carpenter, M.D., Stephan Sharf Interim Dean.

The speakers set the tone for the week.

“Our overall goal for the week is for students, faculty, and staff to immerse themselves in each other’s experiences,” said Bailey. “I know that we’re going to do that so well because we are a fantastic community.”

TED Talk Diversity Response & Analysis was hosted on Tuesday by M2 Dylan Moran.

The event featured two TEDx Talks, which are on YouTube and were played in one of O’Dowd Hall’s lecture halls.

Combating Racism and Place-ism in Medicine” featured J. Nwando Olayiwola. She talked about the harm caused by medical profession when racism is perpetuated as well as place-ism, which is “ignorance of a person’s place…where they live…on their health.” Olayiwola also offered solutions for how technology and educational reform can help.

The Urgent Fight for Health Equity” with Yolanda Hancock featured the speaker talking about “immense racial inequities present in the nation’s health care and law enforcement systems,” and what needs to be done.

Bailey said the videos were “amazing” and that they inspired the kinds of conversations that need to continue happening.

An image of the student panelWednesday featured a lunch and learn panel discussion called “Diverse Voices: Lived Experience and Insights for the Health Care Community.” 

Similarly, Wednesday featured a lunch and learn panel discussion called “Diverse Voices: Lived Experience and Insights for the Health Care Community.” The primary purpose was to help attendees learn more about the experiences of transgender and nonbinary people as they navigate the medical system and face barriers accessing equitable and affirming care.

Blake Bonkowski, coordinator, Oakland University Gender and Sexuality Center, led the panel. He said he hoped attendees took away that “there’s a lot to learn and know about us…(and) that we all have unique relationships with our bodies and with our identity.”

He called it “really huge” that OUWB hosted the event.

“We had some conversations about what this event might look like and (OUWB officials) really listened when I identified the particular focus area,” he said. “It’s a really great model for the rest of campus…different parts of our community have different needs and recognizing that is a really great first step.”

Later that day, a special “Dinner with a Doc” event featured six Corewell Health physicians, who provided OUWB medical students with additional insight on navigating diversity in health care based on their own diverse experiences.

Students rotated from table-to-table.

M2 Jade Ayers, president, OUWB Student National Medical Association, helped coordinate the event.

An image from the Dinner with a Doc eventShikha Kalra, D.O., (left) a family medicine specialist at Corewell Health, talks with M2 Vicky Lu, vice president, OUWB SNMA.

“It’s really important that we get to hear the perspectives of the physicians who come from very diverse backgrounds,” she said. “It’s import to see physicians in those roles and doing well…to hear from physicians who are five to 10 years down the road from us doing well really gives you inspiration as a medical student.”

Yujin Oh, M.D., ’18, OUWB, a family medicine physician, was among the participating doctors.

“Schools and programs are making more conscious efforts to do things like (dinner with a doc) every year, and that’s a good thing,” he said. “I’m always open to opportunities like this with the school.”

On Thursday, the OUWB community had two more opportunities to participate in Diversity Week. “LGBTQ+ Older Adults: A Step Forward in Understanding” and “Profiles of Excellence: Chingona 101 Panel” were both held and led up to Friday’s multicultural (indoor) block party.

The event was a celebration of cultural food, music, and chances to learn more about OUWB student organizations.

“Seeing all the different cultures from the food to the decorations, it made me feel like I was home,” said Bailey. “Anytime you can have that sense of home, that sense of belonging, anyone can thrive.”

An image of Dr. Bailey hugging a studentTonya Bailey, Ph.D., associate dean, Diversity & Inclusion and Community Engagement, hugs M2 Diana Ramo during the block party.

Stephanie Marcincavage, assistant director, Clinical Skills Training & Simulation Center, said that it’s important for students to understand that they are valued and part of our community.

“I have two sons who are half-Polish and half-Korean, so anytime I get the opportunity to participate in something that’s around diversity and inclusion, it’s really important for me,” Marcincavage said. “Just to be able to share that with my boys and say ‘look what we did,’ and this is what you should be doing when you get older.”

Marvin Paguio, M2, called the event “a great way to recognize and celebrate our differences and learn more about the rich experiences we bring to the class.”

“Oftentimes, when we’re studying there aren’t many opportunities to really focus on or celebrate our diversity,” he said. “A lot of us find a source of pride, of purpose, from our cultural or ethnic background — it reminds us a lot of times why we’re here studying medicine.”

Diana Mansour, M1, said it’s important to embrace everyone’s individuality and culture.

“You should be trying to understand (student’s) history and their identity,” Mansour said. “That way, you can celebrate each other and what’s important.”

Haiqi Guo, M1, said events like the block party facilitate cultural humility.

“Once we are able to learn more about a specific culture, or group of people, we will come to realize that all the stereotypes or biases that we may have previously had are not true,” Guo said. “It’s really important to keep this in mind so that we can approach everyone equally, without any biases.”

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at [email protected].

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.