As we welcome some 4,000-plus students back to campus this month, I’d like to briefly share the story of just one of them.
At just 24 years old, third-year medical student Stephanie Nwagwu has already amassed an impressive list of credentials and honors. In March she (along with two classmates) received the CU President’s Diversity Award for developing a curriculum titled What Happened and Why: Addressing Bias and Discrimination in the Medical School Environment. All incoming medical students, this year and last, took the course and reported that it helped them to expand their awareness of and commitment to issues facing underserved, diverse populations. Stephanie went on to share the curriculum at the Student National Medical Association’s conference last spring, where she was elected director of the association’s south-central region.
Leading and addressing inequities has been a longstanding habit of Stephanie’s. As an undergraduate at Baylor University, she was a peer leader and teaching assistant for freshman pre-med students, and created an after-school program to introduce Latino and African-American middle schoolers to science and medicine. Her efforts caught the attention of the White Coats Black Doctors organization, which in 2016 named her the inaugural recipient of its Future Physician Award.
Stephanie’s example reminds us of our collective responsibility to work toward a diverse and inclusive environment in the health fields – both to increase the number of clinically excellent, culturally competent health providers and to reduce health disparities in the populations we serve.
Stephanie is just one of so many talented students enrolled here across the spectrum of health professions. Whatever their background, they’re inquisitive and accomplished, serious about learning, discovery and using health sciences to help others. They’ve come to CU Anschutz knowing that here they’ll be learning from professors who are leaders in their fields and happy to share their deep knowledge, intense curiosity and passion for improving health and health care.
With such remarkable students and faculty, I’m confident that CU Anschutz has a great academic year ahead. I’m truly grateful to be working with all of you as it unfolds.