The University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) held its 13th annual “Celebrating Diversity” reception and dinner on Feb. 29, 2020 at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel. The event was attended by nearly 300 guests who gathered to honor diversity efforts at UMSOM, recognize those who have helped increase diversity in the field of medicine, and to raise support for an endowed scholarship in the name of Dean Emeritus Donald E. Wilson, MD, MACP, AGAF.
“Tonight, we reaffirm our commitment to the values of diversity, and we celebrate the successful strides and accomplishments that result from that commitment,” said E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, the Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, UM Baltimore, the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor, and Dean of the School of Medicine. “The School of Medicine is strongly committed to the recruitment and retention of talented, culturally and ethnically diverse students, staff, trainees, and faculty.”
Erin Hager, PhD, Associate Professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Epidemiology & Public Health and Director of the Program in Health Equity and Population Health was presented the Dean’s Faculty Award for Diversity and Inclusion. For over a decade, Dr. Hager has focused her research on understanding ways to reduce health disparities for children and families in low-resource communities in Baltimore City and throughout Maryland. She has received several local, state, and federal funds, including grants from the CDC, NIH, and USDA, to implement and evaluate strategies to prevent obesity among children in schools and communities. In 2010, Dr. Hager was appointed as the Director of the UMSOM’s Program in Health Equity and Population Health. The program builds on the collaborations among UMSOM researchers and promotes a focus on equity promotion and disparities reduction in new and ongoing research studies.
“Reducing health disparities and promoting health equality has always been at the root of what we do. I am honored to work with such dedicated colleagues and team members who are committed to serving Maryland’s most vulnerable,” said Dr. Hager in receiving the award, urging faculty and UMSOM leaders to continue to promote diversity and inclusion.
The Dean’s Alumni Award for Diversity and Inclusion went to Senator Clarence K. Lam, MD, MPH. Senator Lam was elected to Maryland 12th Legislative District in 2014. As a dedicated public servant, Senator Lam has a long record of supporting his community and constituents. He earned his medical degree from the University of Maryland in 2008 and completed a master's degree in public health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. While attending medical school at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Senator Lam was the student-body president from 2005-2006, where he represented over 6,000 graduate and professional-level students.
“I credit my experiences here, which have exposed me to communities and populations that I still talk about today,” said Senator Lam. “This exposure was important because medicine is not only about clinical care, but about being able to put yourselves in other’s shoes.”
During the 2019-2020 academic year, the School of Medicine awarded more than $4 million in direct support to students. Of that total, almost $2 million was awarded in the form of diversity scholarships to 72 medical students.
Jasmine Blake, MSPH, became the inaugural recipient of the Wilson Legacy Scholarship in 2016. “Today, I stand on the cusps of becoming a doctor. A dream deferred by doubt, yet brought to fruition by the faith and generosity of those of you in this room,” she said. Ms. Blake is set to graduate this May.
Grace Lee and Dominic Ventimiglia, both first-year medical students and 2019 Wilson Legacy Scholarship recipients, also thanked the audience and underscored the social importance of diversity and inclusion.
“Each of us deserves to be given equal opportunities that we need to thrive. I feel honored to have received this scholarship, and I am committed to providing opportunities for others in the future,” said Mr. Ventimiglia.
To contribute to the Dean Emeritus Donald E. Wilson Endowed Scholarship fund, please visit http://medschool.umaryland.edu/development/ for more information.