Read on to learn about how the Northern Arizona University (NAU) COTAD Chapter has made a difference in the lives of students and community members!
The MGH Institute of Health Professions (IHP) COTAD Chapter was officially founded in the Spring of 2020. Since then, we have been busy creating initiatives, programming, fundraisers, and other events to foster a more just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive community at the IHP, the Greater Boston Area, and beyond.
After garnering initial interest, we set out to create interdisciplinary in-person outreach programming for high school and undergraduate students. However, due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were forced to become creative and find other ways to make an impact in our community. In April, we held Virtual Health Professions Career Day, featuring speakers from each of our institute’s professional programs - OT, PT, SLP, nursing, physician assistant, and genetic counseling. We invited undergraduate students from HBCUs, HSIs, AANAPIs, tribal colleges, and surrounding institutions in Boston to listen to our speakers and ask questions. We also surveyed students ahead of time to gauge interest in being involved in a mentorship program. After over 100 students expressed interest, we created the IHP Mentorship Program for Underrepresented Groups in Healthcare, with support from COTAD’s Dr. Lambert, the Student Government Association, and faculty and administration from the IHP’s OT Department, JEDI Office, and Office of Student and Alumni Services. Our mission is to develop a program that prepares and supports underrepresented individuals in pursuing graduate programs in healthcare. Thirty-five mentees have been matched with IHP student or alumni mentors and we are excited to launch the first of four dyads in October. In addition to monthly meetings, mentees will work through Career Choice, School Choice, Application Prep, and Interview Prep with their mentors. We look forward to focusing our energy on our inaugural cohort to ensure its success, gathering quantifiable data to improve programming and sustain longevity, and promoting its inclusion in institutional planning for recruitment.
In addition to community outreach, our efforts have focused on supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. We co-organized a virtual vigil following the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and so many others, featuring student speakers, a space for students to express themselves creatively, and an In Memoriam video. In June, we co-organized a fundraiser for the Center for Black Equity - a non-profit organization that connects members of the Black LGBTQIA+ community with information and resources to educate, engage, and empower the fight for equity and access. A total of $830 was raised. We also held a viewing of Talking Black in America - a documentary that details the role of African American English in Black American communities. Finally, we released a joint statement of allyship and action for racial justice with IHP’s SOTA chapter. We will continue to support this movement through creative virtual programming and events in the upcoming months.
Finally, our other initiatives have included hosting and promoting Part 2 of a Microaggressions Workshop series centered around responding to microaggressions in a clinical setting as well as a social media Pride Month feature of LGBTQIA+ organizations in the Greater Boston Area working with underserved and vulnerable populations. Currently, our future plans are to hold an event entitled, “So We’re Not Really Strangers” - a conversation on race and privilege that aims to promote increased understanding of our lived experiences and their impacts on our lives and the people around us. As the year progresses, we will continue to focus on our mentorship program, develop programming for high school outreach, and collaborate with various student and local organizations. For regular updates, please follow us on social media (Instagram @ihp_cotad), and direct any questions to our Co-Chairs, JP Bonadonna (email@example.com) and Alejandra Luna (firstname.lastname@example.org).