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Diversity Highlights

October Diversity Highlights

Natalia Sutherland

Diversity and Inclusion Notes

  • Natalia Sutherland, a fourth-year student at VTCSOM, envisions a future in medicine close to her Hispanic roots. Her mother’s side of the family is from Puerto Rico, and Sutherland speaks fluent Spanish. A pivotal moment of her young life occurred when she heard her mother, who was teaching English as a second language, explaining to Spanish-speaking students how to go to a doctor and what to say to get the care they needed. Read Natalia’s story.
  • Did you know that you can find events related to diversity, equity, and inclusion at VTCSOM all in one place? Events are continuously being added to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion calendar, which can be found on our website.
  • National Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated September 15 to October 15, provides an opportunity to recognize contributions to Latinx communities locally, regionally, and nationally. This year 6 Virginians were honored for their work at an event held at the Capitol with Senators Kaine and Warner, including our own faculty member, Elda Stanco Downey, PhD. Dr. Downey was recognized for the impact of her work including her roles teaching in the classroom and collaborating on DEI initiatives at VTCSOM.
  • Other holidays and celebrations in the month of October:
    • National Disability Employment Awareness Month
    • LGBT History Month
    • Global Diversity Awareness Month
    • 1: Native American Women’s Equal Pay Day
    • 4: St. Francis Day, feast day for St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment
    • 6-14: Navaratri, Hindu festival celebrating the triumph of good over evil
    • 10: World Mental Health Day
    • 11: National Coming Out Day (US)
    • 11: Thanksgiving (Canada)
    • 11: National Indigenous Peoples Day
    • 18-19: (sundown to sundown): Eid Milad un-Nabi/Mawlid Al-Nabi (Sunni Islamic holiday commemorating the birthday of the prophet Muhammad)
    • 20: Sikh Holy Day (celebration of Sri Guru Granth Sahib)
    • 20: International Pronouns Day
    • 23: Milad un-Nabi (Shia Islamic holiday commemorating the birthday of the prophet Muhammad)
    • 29: Latinx Women’s Equal Pay Day
    • 31: All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween)
    • 31: Reformation Day (Protestant Christian religious holiday)
    • October 31-November 1 (sundown to sundown): Samhain, a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the "darker half" of the year.

September Diversity Highlights

The History of Race and the Ethical Future of Public Health presentation by Dr. Sylvester Johnson. Details and the recording of the presentation are available.

Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine is proud to be a sponsor of "Race, Health, and Future Humans: Lessons from the Legacy of Henrietta Lacks" to be held at Roanoke College on Thursday, September 23.

Critical Race Theory (CRT) Academic Symposium: What is or is not CRT?
Friday, September 24, 2021
10am - 3pm
Commonwealth Ballroom B
Squires at Virginia Tech

Diversity and Inclusion Notes

  • Did you know that you can find events related to diversity, equity, and inclusion at VTCSOM all in one place? Events are continuously being added to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion calendar, which can be found on our website.
  • The 2021 VA Pride Scholarship is now accepting applications. Light up your future with this amazing opportunity. VTCSOM medical students are eligible to apply for this scholarship. Applications will be evaluated on how the applicant says they will apply their education to advancing LGBTQ equality. Deadline to apply is September 10, 2021
  • Virginia Tech hosts Inclusive VT Week Speaker Series:
    • September 7: Dr. Lisa Nunn will present Fostering College Belonging: Practical strategies for fostering student success by strengthening students’ sense of belonging, with a focus on first-generation college students.
    • September 9: Presentation by Dr. Fred Bonner II, author of Square Pegs and Round Holes: Alternative Approaches to Diverse College Student Development Theory.
    • September 10: Dr. Margaret Price will present Creating an Inclusive and Accessible Campus.
  • Holidays and celebrations in the month of September:
    • Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15 to October 15
    • 4-11: Paryushana Parva
    • 6: Labor Day
    • 6-8: (sundown to sundown): Rosh Hashanah
    • 10: Ganesh Chaturthi
    • 11: Ethiopian New Year
    • 15-16: (sundown to sundown): Yom Kippur
    • 18: International Equal Pay Day
    • 20-27: Sukkot
    • 22: Ostara Mabon
    • 24: Native American Day
    • 27: Elevation of the Life-Giving Cross (Holy Cross)
    • 27: Meskel
    • 27-29: (sundown to sundown): Shemini Atzeret
    • 28-29: (sundown to sundown): Simchat Torah
    • 29: Michaelmas

August Diversity Highlights

Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine is proud to be a sponsor of the Second Annual Black Father Festival at Westside Elementary in Roanoke, to be held August 22, 2021. Dean Learman will also be speaking at that event. 

  • Kory Cablay, Class of 2022, and Sarah Yosief, Class of 2023, are both scholarship recipients at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. They sat down to discuss why they want to become physicians and how the scholarships have helped them along in their journeys. Cablay received the VTC Diversity Excellence in Medicine Scholarship Fund, which was established by Drs. Frank and Jennifer Clark to support underrepresented students. Yosief received the Caroline Osborne Memorial Scholarship, which was established to honor the memory of Caroline Osborne, who was a member of the school’s Charter Class.
  • Registration is now open for Virginia Tech’s annual Diversity Summit to be held August 11. The event will feature short, asynchronous sessions available all day. There will be live components on a by-invitation basis including the keynote speaker, Claude Steele, whose lecture will be livestreamed from 9-10:15 a.m. 
  • Holidays and celebrations in the month of August:
    • 6: Feast of the Transfiguration
    • 10: Hijri (Islamic New Year)
    • 13: Black Women’s Equal Pay Day
    • 17: Marcus Garvey Day
    • 18-19: Ashura (sundown to sundown)
    • 22: Obon
    • 22: Hungry Ghost Festival
    • 26: Women’s Equality Day
    • 29-30: Krishna Janmashtami

July Diversity Highlights

VTCSOM Mentoring Communities - call for faculty mentors:

The VTCSOM offices of Student Affairs and Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion are leading the school’s transition from our current Physician Thought Leader Communities to Mentoring Communities. Mentoring Communities are faculty-led student communities that provide an administrative structure through which students can experience individualized advising and mentoring that fosters personal and professional growth, some within a specific identity group. If you’d like to be considered for mentorship, please fill out this quick survey.

Virtual Safe Zone

VirTual Safe Zone 101 Training

Register today for Summer 2: June 28th - July 30th

VirTual Safe Zone 101 is an online 5-week intensive course with weekly readings, writings, and a live discussion lab. The curriculum is meant to assist with the development of content knowledge.

  • The course curriculum delivers basic information to begin your development of content knowledge.
  • The readings are meant to help deepen your scope of the topic.
  • The discussion board reflective writings provide the opportunity to explore your thoughts, feelings, and questions.
  • The live discussions engage you in conversation with one another and allow for questions to be proffered to the group.

VirTual Trans Safe Zone 101 Training

Register today for Summer 2: June 28th - July 30th

VirTual Trans Safe Zone 101 is an online five-week course addressing transgender identities and issues. This course aims to

  • introduce participants to contemporary introductory information regarding gender minorities;
  • contextualize this new/refreshed knowledge with some of the complexity and nuanced characteristics of these elements;
  • provide the opportunity to engage in introspective or reflective thinking;
  • engage individuals in discussion with one another regarding their own understanding, feelings, and experiences with the course content; 
  • and encourage active allyship during and after the course has ended

Please note: VirTual Safe Zone is a prerequisite and must be completed before this course can be taken.

June Diversity Highlights

Headshot of Dr. Sue along with event information listed below

Microaggressions and Microinterventions

  • On June 17th at 10 a.m., Dr. Derald Wing Sue will be addressing issues related to microaggressions and micro-interventions that respond to the U.S. socio-cultural and political climate. His knowledge and expertise about microaggression theory have been widely acknowledged and integrated into the U.S. mainstream public discourse as well as within the academy. During this event, Dr. Sue will share how his experiences, research, and scholarship can be disseminated and utilized at a place like Virginia Tech. To learn more and register please follow this link
  • Did you know that you can find events related to diversity, equity, and inclusion at VTCSOM all in one place? Events are continuously being added to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion calendar, which can be found on our website.
  • Arizona State University is hosting a conference on Cultivating Black and Native Futures in Education from June 17-19. 
  • June is:
    • LGBTQ+ Pride Month
    • Immigrant Heritage Month
  • Holidays and celebrations in the month of June:
    • 3: Corpus Christi
    • 11: Feast of the Most Sacred Heart
    • 14: Flag Day
    • 19: Juneteenth (observed June 18)
    • 20: Father's Day
    • 21: Litha (Midsummer)
    • 27: LGBTQ+ Pride Day

May Diversity Highlights


May Highlights

  • On Tuesday, May 11, Dr. Nina Ha, Director of Virginia Tech's Asian Cultural Engagement Center will facilitate the May Diversity Lunch and Learn to discuss a presentation by Dr. Simona C. Kwon: Asian Americans and Health Equity: Dismantling Stereotypes.
  • May is:
    • Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
    • Jewish American Heritage Month
    • Mental Health Awareness Month
    • Older Americans Month
  • Holidays and celebrations in the month of May:
    • 2: Orthodox Easter
    • 5: Cinco de Mayo
    • 6: National Day of Prayer
    • 9: Laylat al-Qadri
    • 12-13: Eid al-Fitr (sundown to sundown)
    • 16-18: Shavuot (sundown to sundown)
    • 17: International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia
    • 21: World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development
    • 26: Vesak/Visakha Puja
    • 31: Memorial Day
Virtual Safe Zone

April Diversity Highlights


1. 9th Annual Faculty Women of Color in the Academy National Conference April 9

2. #VTUnfinished Conversation on April 5 at 11:30 a.m. President Tim Sands will be joined by Menah Pratt-Clarke, vice president for Strategic Affairs and Diversity, Guru Ghosh, vice president for Outreach and International Affairs, Jessica Nguyen, president of the Asian American Student Union, Silas Cassinelli, assistant professor in the Department of English, and Nina Ha, director of the Asian Cultural Engagement Center. The event will be livestreamed on this page and on the InclusiveVT YouTube channel

On April 21 at 9am, the basic science education department is hosting Neurodiversity panel discussion: Different perspectives of autism with five panelists, and moderated by department chair Renee LeClair.

Training Opportunity

Stanford’s Teaching LGBTQ+ Health course: a faculty development course for health professions educators. 

This curriculum is designed for faculty members and health professions educators at Stanford Medicine and beyond. The course goals are to improve your knowledge, teaching skills, and attitudes pertaining to the provision of health care to LGBTQ+ patients. View the course trailer.


As educators, it is our responsibility to resist false narratives that fuel xenophobic crimes and to decolonize thinking that props up model minority and orientalist stereotypes. As educators, it is our responsibility--collectively and individually--to reflect, read, learn, and act toward justice, and to understand the intersections of identities that shape our lived experiences.
Learn more about the #StopAAPIHate initiative.

March is Women's History Month

In honor of Women's History Month, we are highlighting the documentary PICTURE A SCIENTIST. 

PICTURE A SCIENTIST is a documentary film chronicling the groundswell of researchers who are writing a new chapter for women scientists. A biologist, a chemist and a geologist lead viewers on a journey deep into their own experiences in the sciences, overcoming brutal harassment, institutional discrimination, and years of subtle slights to revolutionize the culture of science. From cramped laboratories to spectacular field sites, we also encounter scientific luminaries who provide new perspectives on how to make science itself more diverse, equitable, and open to all.

Events hosted by Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Fralin Biomedical Research Institute in honor of black history month include 

Progress Notes | February 2021

Diversity and Inclusion

  • The next #VTCUnfinished event will be held virtually on Thursday, February 4 from 6 to 7 p.m. Titled “Black Maternal Health,” this session seeks to provide space to discuss how implicit racial and gender biases can change health care outcomes, what disparities currently exist, and how to begin dismantling health injustice. By disseminating best practices to address critical issues in Black maternal health from different sectors including research, care, policy, and culture; we can frame health equity and reproductive justice for Black Women.
    The event is hosted by the VTC Chapter of the Student National Medical Association, the VTC Refugee in Medicine Association, the VTC Group on Women in Medicine and Science, and the VTC Obstetrics & Gynecology Interest Group. Registration required.
  • Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine has obtained a number of licenses for interested parties to view the documentary Black Men in White Coats on their own devices from February 23 - 25. It will also be shown in the Auditorium (M203) on February 25 at 3 p.m. A discussion will follow both live and on Zoom. Registration for online or in-person participation is required. 

Progress Notes | January 2021

Diversity and Inclusion

  • Registration is open for Virginia Tech’s Advancing Diversity Virtual Gathering on Jan. 12, 2021.
  • Online diversity pathways and inclusive pedagogy spring courses.
    There are new courses on the TLOS professional development network for diversity and inclusion. In addition, new SafeZone courses are available for the spring. 
  • The Breakthrough Inclusive Action Tool Kit is available for anyone ready to become an agent of change in the academy! Although it is written for students and faculty in STEM fields, the content is adaptable to any academic unit. This excellent resource was produced in collaboration with Science Friday and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Tangled Bank Studios. 

Progress Notes | December 2020

Diversity and Inclusion

  • Registration is open for Virginia Tech’s Advancing Diversity Virtual Gathering on January 12, 2021.
  • Do you have aging relatives? Will they need your support to age well?
    Our recent Lunch and Learn focused on relevant information about what caring for an aging relative entails and why you and your loved ones should prepare. This session was full of great information and resources.

Progress Notes | November 2020

Diversity and Inclusion

Last month’s Lunch and Learn featured a discussion about inclusive language and terminology and was led by Charlotte Baker with the Department of Population Health Sciences at Virginia Tech. The graphic from her presentation is an excellent visual of the difference between the terms “equality” and “equity.”

Progress Notes | October 2020

Diversity and Inclusion

October is LGBTQ+ History Month, an annual month-long observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, and the history of the gay rights and related civil rights movements. LGBTQ+ History Month provides role models, builds community, and represents a civil rights statement about the contributions of the LGBTQ+ community. Click here for Virginia Tech’s calendar of events to celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month.

September is Women in Medicine Month

To celebrate Women in Medicine Month, the AAMC’s Group on Women in Medicine and Science (GWIMS) will release a communication each week in September featuring spotlights, articles, journals and leadership lessons from women in physician, scientist, educator, and leadership roles. I hope we each will use this opportunity to reflect on the important contributions made by the women highlighted in the AAMC spotlight, and by the many outstanding women in medicine in our VTC community!

Week One: Women as Medical Educators
Week Two: Women as Biomedical Scientists
Week Three: Women as Physicians

Helen Carvalho highlighted as 
IAMSE September Featured Member

Our association is a robust and diverse set of educators, researchers, medical professionals, volunteers and academics that come from all walks of life and from around the globe. Each month we choose a member to highlight their academic and professional career, and see how they are making the best of their membership in IAMSE. This month’s Featured Member is IAMSE member Helena Carvalho, PhD.

Helena Carvalho, PhD
Associate Professor
Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine

How long have you been a member of IAMSE?
Since 2010, when I started working at VTCSOM and shifted my focus to medical education. 

Looking at your time with the Association, what have you most enjoyed doing? What are you looking forward to?
Since I became a member, I have been attending and presenting education research at IAMSE annually, but when I was part of the planning committee for the IAMSE 2018 and 2019, I learned some of the work that happens in the background. I really enjoyed being a part of the planning committee team. Since then I have continued to be more involved with the Association including attending IAMSE café, webinars and other online sessions. 

I am always looking forward to the annual meetings where many interesting people share their expertise. Several times I felt ‘illuminated’ after the main talks at IAMSE. The speakers are well informed and really interested in education. Also, I appreciate the opportunity to present at focus sessions, posters and to be able to network with other educators that share the same passion for education. 

What interesting things are you working on outside the Association right now?
I am really interested in innovative teaching methodologies. Since I reinvented myself changing from basic science research to full-time educator, I've wanted to make a difference in the students’ learning experience. For a decade I have been developing alternative and effective teaching strategies on my teaching using dramatizations and manipulatives. Some of the successes and challenges for these innovative teaching methods have been published and more are on the way for submission. At the last IAMSE meeting in Roanoke, I presented one of my favorite original teaching strategies during which participants in the Focus Session acted out roles in a Dramatization of the Cardiac Cycle. It was fun and really well received. Another line of research I am interested in is the correlation of what faculty think about teaching and how it reflects on how they teach and the teaching methodologies they use. The manuscript is going to be submitted to Medical Science Educator.

What positive changes have you implemented in your classes post-COVID? 
Teaching via Zoom has proved to be a surprisingly interesting and rewarding experience. Originally I was completely against teaching online, but the sudden change from in-person to virtual was not a problem at all. I was going to facilitate PBL when the coronavirus outbreak was still mostly in Asia, and I saw that it was spreading and potentially coming to the US. It worried me as I was about to be in a small room with 7 students for 10 hours a week. The pandemic was announced on a Thursday and the following Monday we started PBL via zoom. I was happily surprised at how well it worked. I missed meeting the students in person but we still connected well and the quality of their education was maintained. Another great experience was teaching in the Ph.D. program using Zoom break-out rooms. It is good to see everybody’s faces and stimulate their participation in the session. In summary, I feel very lucky to be teaching in a school that gives such great technical support and to have so many really engaged students. 

Anything else that you would like to add? 
I am involved in a project in Brazil, my home country, with COVID-19 where we are working on a platform called “Ciente” (“Aware” in English) that centralizes personal health data and adaptations to be used in the pandemic. I also volunteer in the community. I teach Physiology to middle and high school students and volunteer for the Medical Reserve Corps helping translate instructions into Portuguese and Spanish to individuals at testing sites. Finally, another very interesting and important way I use my time is being part of a VTCSOM Task Force to deal with inequality and racial disparity. It is a great opportunity for me to make a meaningful contribution. 

It is very stimulating to receive this recognition from IAMSE. It shows me that the work I love is valued by this society as it has been by other societies such as the American Physiological Society that prompted a visit to Senator Mark Warner’s office due to a teaching award I received.