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InclusiveVTCSOM Task Force

InclusiveVTCSOM Task Force


Our Mission is to advance an inclusive environment that attracts and retains the best talent, values diversity of life experiences and perspectives, and encourages innovation in our pursuit of equity.

InclusiveVTCSOM Task Force 

Since its founding in 2007, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine has contemplated what it means to value, support, and engage with our diversity, and how to disrupt systems that are antithetical to our commitment to equity, civility, and excellence. The InclusiveVTCSOM Task Force will help us to further this work. 

About the Task Force

On June 3, 2020, in response to recent events that put a glaring spotlight on the systemic racism and biased, violent policing in the Black community, Dean Lee Learman hosted the VTCSOM Community Forum: Finding Safety after the Killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. More than 150 students, residents, faculty and staff participated in the forum, confirming our community’s shared commitment to equity, justice and civility.  Shortly after, Dean Learman informed the community that he would assemble a task force to address opportunities at VTCSOM to improve diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Established on June 12, 2020, the InclusiveVTCSOM Task Force will highlight a wide range of diversity issues, including but not limited to those highlighted by students, and those that pertain to admissions, the curriculum, and the learning environment. 

The Task Force is grounded in the foundational principles reflected in the Virginia Tech Principles of Community and the Carilion Clinic Diversity and Inclusion Statement. Guided by these principles, we commit to: 

  • Creating and implementing strategies that honor and strive to increase diversity in our students, workforce, patients, and community across all dimensions of social and cultural identity; 
  • Consistently promoting and practicing inclusivity with all groups;
  • Training physician thoughts leaders within a culture that promotes compassion and health equity; and 
  • Holding ourselves and our institution accountable for these commitments.

Task Force Structure and Deliverables

Task Force leaders and members will take care to engage members of the VTCSOM, Virginia Tech, Carilion Clinic and Roanoke communities as they draft a detailed report that includes deliberate, measurable action steps that advance the school’s equity and inclusion goals. The report will be submitted to Dean Learman by December, 2020. 

The InclusiveVTCSOM Task Force will be led by three co-chairs, and consist of seven Working Groups that will interface with and report to one larger oversight group, which will provide guidance for Task Force efforts.

The Working Groups will address critical issues related to: (1) Phase 1 Curriculum, (2) Phase 2 Curriculum, (3) Student Support, (4) Community Engagement, (5) Admissions, (6) Faculty/Staff Recruitment, Development and Retention, and (7) the Learning and Working Environment. The groups will meet as frequently as needed to accomplish tasks related to their individual action items, but no more than once per week. 

Through the seven Working Groups, Task Force members will gather data, inventory the school’s current practices related to diversity, equity and inclusion, and develop recommendations that advance the school’s movement toward inclusive excellence.

Task Force and Working Group members will take care to engage members of the VTCSOM, Virginia Tech, Carilion Clinic and Roanoke communities as they draft a detailed report that includes deliberate, measurable action steps that advance the school’s equity and inclusion goals. The report will be submitted to Dean Learman by December, 2020.

Students are the lifeblood of VTCSOM, so their participation in and contributions to the Task Force is crucial. Student members of the Task Force and Working Groups were selected based on applications they submitted, and reviewed by class leadership in consultation with the school’s Chief Diversity Officer. About 40 VTCSOM students will play a role in task force activities, with four student representatives on the task force steering committee; one student co-leader for each Working Group (seven students); and at least four students appointed to each Working Group (at least 28 students).

Students who expressed interest in or were nominated to serve on the task force were required to submit brief application that required them to explain their interest. Applications were reviewed by their student leaders in collaboration with the school’s chief diversity officer. Students appointed by the dean to serve on the task force and working groups effectively articulated their experiences with diversity and inclusion initiatives, the group process, and inclusive discussions.

Working Groups

The Working Group on the Phase 1 Curriculum will review M1 and M2 curricular materials and experiential learning opportunities to ensure that they address the social determinants of health as well as help equip students with the knowledge, skills, and competencies they will need to provide culturally excellent health care and research. Further, the group will research and recommend learning activities that foster self-awareness of how students view others and how those views may affect health care delivery and the patient experience. 

The group’s focus will include (but not be limited to): self-awareness; unconscious/implicit bias; social determinants of health; health equity; pedagogical styles; microaggressions; and imposter syndrome.

Emily Holt Foerst, MA (Co-leader), Director, Academic Counseling and Enrichment Services / Instructor, Basic Science Education
Shashank Somasundaram (Co-leader), M2-Student

Dr. Angelica Witcher (Facilitator), Director, Student Affairs / Instructor, Interprofessionalism

Mallory Blackwood, M3-Student
LB Canary, M1-Student
Dr. Helena Carvalho, Assistant Professor, Basic Science Education
Katie Hardin, M2-Student
Dr. Kris Rau, Assistant Professor, Basic Science Education
Atreyi Saha, M1-Student
Neha Singh, M2-Student
Dr. Cynthia Unwin, Assistant Professor, Interprofessionalism

The Working Group on the Phase 2 Curriculum will review M3 and M4 curricular materials and experiential learning opportunities to ensure that they address the social determinants of health as well as help equip students with the knowledge, skills, and competencies they will need to provide culturally excellent health care and research. Further, the group will research and recommend interventions that target, and hopefully, minimize implicit bias within and toward health care providers. 

The group’s focus will include (but not be limited to): unconscious/implicit bias; microaggressions; social determinants of health; and bias in performance evaluations.

Ayesha Kar (Co-leader), M4-Student
Dr. Charles Paget (Co-leader), Associate Professor, General Surgery

Elvir Berbic (Facilitator), Student Affairs Manager

Dr. Olivia Asamoah, Resident- Pediatrics
Dr. Malek Bouzaher, class of 2020 alumnus
Dr. Hoa Nguyen, Chief Resident- Obstetrics & Gynecology
Dr. Ijeoma Okogbue, Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine
Ryan Perry, M4-Student
Anna Shvygina, M4-Student
Vaish Sridhar, M4-Student
Dr. Tom Stoecker, Assistant Professor, Radiology

The Working Group on Student Support will examine the programs and services implemented across a variety of VTCSOM and Virginia Tech departments to ensure that they foster the individual and professional growth, development, and wellness of medical students, specifically those underrepresented in medicine. 

The group’s focus will include (but not be limited to): academic support and remediation; physical and mental wellness; individual and group mentoring; sense of belonging; and learning accommodations.

Adenike Adenikinju (Co-leader), M4-Student 
Dr. Benga Bankole (Co-leader), Associate Professor, Internal Medicine

Carrie Knopf (Facilitator), Student Affairs Coordinator

Dr. Bri Beach, Assistant Professor, Family & Community Medicine 
Ron Bradbury, Director for Admissions
Anna Buhle, M2-Student
Dr. Mebratu Daba, Assistant Professor, Pediatrics
Hassan Farah, Executive Chair Roanoke Graduate Student Association, FBRI-TBMH Grad Student
Dr. Tamera Howell, Carilion Clinic - Obstetrics & Gynecology
Ilona Jileaeva, M1-Student
Margarite McCandless, MLS, Head Librarian / Instructor, Interprofessionalism
Rebekah Sayre, M2-Student
Cameron Worden, M4-Student

The Working Group on Community Engagement will focus on efforts to collaborate with organizations to expand the school’s reach and strengthen its impact in diverse groups in Roanoke and surrounding communities. 

The group’s focus will include (but not be limited to): K-12 outreach and engagement; service learning; Roanoke sense of community; and partnerships with community-based organizations.

Annette Lewis (Co-leader), President & CEO, Total Action for Progress
Macy Marcucci (Co-leader), M2-Student

Courtney Powell (Facilitator), Community and Culture Manager, VTCSOM
Stephanie Hairston (Facilitator), Riverside 4 Receptionist

Dr. Azziza O. (Kemi) Bankole, Associate Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine
Crystal Barnett, Medical Education Coordinator - Research, VTCSOM
Lee Clark, CEO, Rescue Mission of  Roanoke
Dotsy Clifton, Community Activist
Joe Cobb, Vice Mayor, Roanoke City Council
Dr. Joy Collins, Associate Professor, General Surgery
Alyssa DeWyer, M2-Student
Shaylyn Fahey, M1-Student
Jane Gay, M3-Student
Robin Haldiman, CEO, CHIP of the Roanoke Valley
Brenda Hale, President, Roanoke Branch, NAACP
Samantha Hoover, Director of Alumni Affairs and Special Events, VTCSOM
Neeka Karimian, M1-Student
Dr. Leslie LaConte, Associate Professor, Basic Science Education
Rev. Dr. William Lee, Retired Pastor, Loudon Avenue Christian Church
Kameron Melton, Attorney, Woods Rogers
Karen Michalski-Karney, Executive Director, Blue Ridge Independent Living Center
Kevin Patel, M2-Student
Rabbi Jama Purser, Beth Israel Synagogue
Vivian Sanchez Jones, Student Support Specialist at Roanoke City Public Schools
Dr. Bert Spetzler, Assistant Professor, Orthopaedic Surgery
Janine Underwood, Executive Director, Bradley Free Clinic
Damon Williams, Regional CRA officer, First Citizens Bank

The Working Group on Admissions will examine the school’s diversity outreach, recruitment, and admissions policies and practices and consider how they attract, retain and graduate medical students who can practice culturally responsive and equity-minded health care. 

The group’s focus will include (but not be limited to): pipeline programs; underrepresented minority student recruitment; staff diversity; Medical School Admission Committee diversity; yield programs for underrepresented minority students; scholarships; unconscious/implicit bias; admission criteria; and stereotype threat.

Dr. Violet Borowicz (Co-leader), Assistant Professor, Pediatrics
Sarah Yosief (Co-leader), M2- Student

Karen Burns, (Facilitator), Executive Assistant to the Dean and Vice Dean, VTCSOM

Dr. Patricia Beauzile, Carilion Clinic - Obstetrics & Gynecology
Dr. Kimberly Clay, Carilion Clinic - Endocrinology
Yash Desai, M3-Student
Brandon Ganjineh, M1-Student
Jake Hartman-Kenzler, M3-Student
Stephanie Masters, M3-Student
Vemmy Metsutnan, M1-Student
Dr. Sam Nakat, Assistant Professor, Radiology
Dr. Mark Schleupner, Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine
Michael Spinosa, M2-Student

The Working Group on Faculty and Staff Recruitment, Development, and Retention will concentrate on the school’s efforts to recruit diverse faculty, provide ongoing diversity training for instructional and clinical faculty, and ensure that all students are exposed to faculty and physicians from diverse communities. 

The group’s focus will include (but not be limited to): recruitment; retention; mentoring; sense of belonging; professional development; cultural competence; unconscious/implicit bias; microaggressions; and managing difficult discussions.

Chukwuemeka Uwakaneme (Co-leader), M2 Student
Dr. Shari Whicker (Co-leader), Associate Professor, Pediatrics and Interprofessionalism

Karyna Nevarez (Facilitator), Inclusion Coordinator, VTCSOM

Oscar Alcoreza, M3-Student
Patrick Barrett, M2-Student
Douglas Crowder, Carilion Clinic - Director,  Workforce Intelligence
Dr. Heidi Lane, Associate Professor, Interprofessionalism
Dr. Renee LeClair, Assistant Professor, Basic Science Education
Taylor Lynch, Standardized Patient & Clinical Skills Manager, VTCSOM
Mira Nicchitta, M3-Student
Dr. Charles Schleupner, Professor, Internal Medicine

The Working Group on the Learning and Working Environment will focus on the school’s efforts to create and sustain a diverse, inclusive, and bias-free experience for everyone in the VTCSOM community, including all learners, educators, and staff, with special attention to the clinical learning environment. 

The group’s focus will include (but not be limited to): safe and streamlined reporting of bias, discrimination and mistreatment; management of student complaints, including feedback on the outcome; management of comments by patients, including active bystander training; and introducing medical students/student doctors by name, including tools for pronunciation.

Dr. Michael Nussbaum (Co-leader), Professor and Chair, General Surgery
Meredith Rahman (Co-leader), M4-Student

Dani Backus (Facilitator), Senior Director of Institutional Effectiveness and Accreditation, VTCSOM

Dr. Felicity Adams-Vanke, Assistant Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine
Dr. Aysegul (Aisha) Aydogan, PGY-2, Resident-Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine
Caitlin Bassett, Medical Education Coordinator-Evaluation & Assessment, VTCSOM
Nina Budaeva-Harding, M2-Student
Katie Brow, M2-Student
Yazdi Doshi, M3-Student
Dr. Felicia G Gallucci, PGY-3, Resident-Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine
Dr. Janet Osborne, Associate Professor, Obstetrics & Gynecology
Katelyn Stebbins, M1-Student
Satya Vedula, M2-Student

Related Task Force Videos

Zoom screenshot from Community Forum. Click to view forum transcript.
Screenshot of Community Forum. Link opens in a new tab.

InclusiveVTCSOM Community Forum, July 28, 2020

On Tuesday, July 28, 2020, 158 VTCSOM students, faculty, staff, and friends of the school joined in a Community Forum on our InclusiveVTCSOM initiative. Even though the event was held virtually, the energy and excitement were palpable. 

Video Transcript

Hello everyone. It is August 3rd, 2020, marking the 21st week of the pandemic response. Last week we welcomed our Class of 2024, 49 strong! Knock on wood [knocking sounds], they will be the only class who will one day tell their colleagues that they started medical school in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the highlights of my career in academic medicine occurred last week when 158 VTCSOM students, faculty, staff, and friends of the school joined in a community forum on our InclusiveVTCSOM initiative. Even though the event was held virtually, the energy and excitement about the possibilities of what we can be as a fully inclusive, equitable organization, were palpable.

The forum, and an earlier one we held in June, were in response to recent events that put a glaring spotlight on systemic racism across our country. At last week’s forum, we introduced the task force that will focus on a wide range of diversity issues, including many of those raised by our students in June and July.

The task force includes more than 100 members participating in the steering committee or seven work groups, and while that may seem large, we need a variety of skills, experience, perspectives, and ideas to guide this multidimensional work. In order to make meaningful and sustainable change, we need many voices at the table co-creating our future vision.

We invite you to visit our newly designed diversity page at: Here you will find a link for more information about the InclusiveVTCSOM task force, including a link to last week’s forum.

Today we will hear from the three co-chairs of the task force: Patricia Wooten, human resources manager; Michael Jeremiah, department chair of family and community medicine; and Fidel Valea, department chair of obstetrics and gynecology. These 3 leaders will share their vision about this initiative what excites them about this effort we are undertaking.

Greetings VTCSOM. This is Patricia Wooten, the HR manager for the school and as one of the co-chairs of the InclusiveVTCSOM task force, I wanted to just send a short message with a few key points following Tuesday evening’s community conversations.

I was left energized, ready to tackle the work ahead of us and I hope you were as well following that session. I was also very impressed by the work that's already been done up until this point by the dean, by our leadership team, and by our diversity and inclusion team to get us to here. The foundation that's been set, I think, is phenomenal, and we're just going to continue that work and be part of something really big and really great here.

As I mentioned, Tuesday evening, my more than 15-year career in human resources spans various industries, but most recently, the last seven years prior to joining the school of medicine, I was an HR leader for various hospital systems up and down the East coast for the competitor. But I'm super, super happy to be in the role that I am today, and hopefully that experience that I have, not only personally, but professionally dealing with hospital operations at a very high level will help us as we tackle some of the items that were shared Tuesday evening.

Most people... one of the things that really excites me about this task force is the vast number of folks that we have appointed to the task force. Most people, when they think of over a hundred individuals being on a task force and trying to come together towards one common goal would say that's too many. I actually think the opposite. I think instead what really happens is you bring a vast number of individuals with experiences, skills, ideas to the table versus having just one voice. And so I think, I actually think that over 100 number is going to benefit us greatly and sort of set us apart in the work that we're getting ready to do and make this hugely successful.

So that's a huge excitement for me, and I look forward to working with every single one of you in this capacity. I'm thrilled by the journey that we're embarking on. I truly think that this is a historic moment in time for all of us, for our communities. And it's historic for the school for us to really lay the groundwork, to be the best that we can be now and in the future. And so I hope that you're ready to take this journey with us, that you're actively engaged with us, and we look forward to serving you, but you also serving, serving the school. So, thank you, and have a great day.

Greetings everyone. My name is Michael Jeremiah. I serve as the chair of the department of family and community medicine, both for Carilion Clinic and for our school of medicine. I want to thank Dean Learman for giving me the opportunity to work with the incredible colleagues I have in Patricia Wooten and Dr. Fidel Valea. This is such important work that we're going to be doing as a task force and I am excited to be a part of it. I am honored to be able to work with such incredible group of individuals who are now making up the different work groups and the larger task force. Our students have spoken up and already started to recognize some of the opportunities we have as a school to be able to address aspects of the curriculum, as well as the learning environment and our hiring practices, to be the best that we can be.

I've been working population health for Carilion Clinic, and I've recognized in that work, that you cannot improve the health of a community or of a population without addressing some of these aspects of equity and aspects of inclusiveness because they become critical barriers for many of our patients in terms of reaching their optimal health outcomes. The same is true in the learning environment. We have to recognize these barriers where they exist and either eliminate them or find ways around them to be able to optimize the learning for our students, to become the best physicians that they can be.

This is personal for me, too. My wife and I have two wonderful children and they are internationally adopted, and they have experienced discrimination and aspects of these challenges, that many parts of our society experience every day. We've done our best to be able to help them to navigate through many of those challenges and we've learned so much from them, and I hope to be able to carry over some of that learning as I work with all of the members of the task force. Thank you again for this opportunity. We're very excited about what we can accomplish together and looking forward to getting started here right away. Thanks so much.

Hello. My name is Fidel Valea, and I serve as the chair of obstetrics and gynecology at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and I was recently appointed co-chair of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine task force on diversity, equity, and inclusion. When Dean Learman first asked me to serve as co-chair of this committee, my initial response was "YES! absolutely."

You might wonder why such a strong feeling? As an immigrant from Cuba, I came to United States at age one, and my family and I lived in a single family apartment in the Bronx with two other families. I can tell you that we all experienced discrimination firsthand. I heard about it from my parents at work. I experienced it at school. We even experienced it in the community. I was fortunate to have very resilient parents that taught me the importance and values of equity and justice for all, regardless of the color of their skin, the country of origin, the languages they speak, or their personal preferences.

I can tell you that in my household, racism of any form was just not tolerated. My dad used to say, "that's why we came to America" in his broken English. So no surprise then that diversity, equity, and inclusion is actually a calling of mine. It's personal for me.

A close friend of mine is the chief diversity officer for the whole University of South Florida system. And I asked him, point blank, “Heywood, What can I do?” His answer to me was: "don't be silent, speak up, be heard. Now more than ever, don't be silent." These words resonated with me, but I still had the question of how can I do this? So, when the Dean asked me to serve on this committee, I realized this was my how, this was my opportunity to serve, speak up, and affect change.

My next question of the dean was all about resources. After the July 28th kickoff, where he described in detail the plans, resources, and various committee and subcommittee members that he has assembled, it was obvious to me that this is a great opportunity to make a change. The time is right. By involving the community at large in this endeavor. Our change can permeate throughout Virginia Tech Carilion, Carilion Health System, and into the community.

My fellow co-chairs Patricia Wooten and Michael Jeremiah bring a wealth of experience, knowledge, and energy to this group. I think I can speak for all three of us when I say that we're excited to lead this change. Throughout my professional life, I've been involved with recruitment at all levels and I tell folks that I'm recruiting that diversity doesn't just happen, that you actually have to make it happen.

But let me be clear. Diversity alone is not enough. We have to achieve equity and inclusion. Both of these require a culture change, a new state of mind, a new way of life. That is our goal. Together, as a community, we could overcome these obstacles, accomplish our goals and be a role model for other communities. This is our opportunity to speak up and be heard. Thank you for the opportunity to express my thoughts and serve on the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine committee on diversity, equity, and inclusion task force.

Thank you Patricia and Drs. Jeremiah and Valea. We are in very capable hands with your leadership in this effort.

InclusiveVTCSOM is the leading edge of our strategic planning process occurring this academic year.  The task force has been asked to submit a report to me by December 2020, or in early 2021 if there are delays related to the pandemic.

You’ll be hearing and reading more about InclusiveVTCSOM in the months ahead as each working group is charged with developing deliberate, measurable action steps that advance our equity and inclusion goals.

Until next week, stay safe and well.

Video Transcript

Hello everyone. It is Monday, July 6, 2020, and we are entering Week 17 of the pandemic response. I hope everyone was able to enjoy the holiday weekend.  Celebrating our independence was more poignant this year in light of the pandemic impact on freedoms we usually take for granted, and the growing recognition of unequal access to the fruits of liberty we all hold dear.

This is also the beginning of a new academic year and the first day back on clinical rotations for our third- and fourth-year students.  Our student clinician ceremony tonight is designed to provide guidance, affirmation, and support to our third-year students as they make the transition into their clerkship years and the honor of putting on their own white coats.  It is a time to reflect on our commitments to our patients, our profession and our community.

For me, July also provides a natural time to reflect on first year as dean.  I am filled with a deep sense of appreciation for the strengths and opportunities that attracted me here, and are now more vivid and exciting.  Our amazing faculty, students, staff and administrative leaders have worked hard to take our next bold step forward in curricular innovation with the launch of our Health Systems Science and Interprofessional Practice domain.   We will also implement the first step of our increase in class size to 49 students. 

And, as we welcome our 11th class, it is timely to refresh the VTC School of Medicine Strategic Plan.  Our strategic planning process in the coming year will be rigorous, inclusive and aligned with the strategic objectives of Virginia Tech and Carilion Clinic. Today, I will brief you on our plans for Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity. 

On June 3rd, we held a Community Forum on Finding Safety after the Killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd.  Over 150 individuals joined us by zoom for the forum. Nine days later, Rayshard Brooks was fatally shot by Atlanta police.  Throughout the month of June, protests of historic size with millions of demographically diverse participants throughout US cities and towns have brought greater attention to different aspects of racial inequality.  More actions are being taken to remove symbols of racism, an historic step that could lead to other enduring changes.

Medical schools across the US are seizing the moment to reflect upon and renew their efforts in diversity inclusion and diversity equity, for students, faculty, and staff and to partner with civic organizations to make tangible changes that improve the health and well-being of our communities.  Much has been done since we admitted our first class in 2010 years ago, and we should be proud of those accomplishments even as we look deeply at how we take our efforts to the next level. 

I am announcing today the establishment of a VTC School of Medicine Task Force to develop a robust strategic plan for diversity inclusion and diversity equity.  The scope of the Task Force will include diversity as defined by racial, ethnic, and gender identities, sexual orientation, disability and socioeconomic circumstances for students who were the first in their families to attend college or who surmounted enormous financial challenges to attend medical school. The outcomes of this effort will be specific, measurable actions that we will approach with intentionality and accountability.

The Task Force will include working groups for specific focus areas:  Curriculum Phase I, covering the first two years; Curriculum Phase II for years three and four; Student Support; Admissions; Community Engagement; Faculty and Staff Recruitment, Development and Retention, and the Learning and Working Environment. 

Each of these working groups will be co-led by a medical student and a member of our faculty or staff.  Our strategic planning process, including the task force and working groups, will include a wide range of stakeholders from our student body, faculty and staff, community members, and other learners and organizational leaders at VTC. 

We will complete the design stage of this important work over the next 3 weeks, and announce the task force and working group charges, leadership and membership at a follow-up Community Forum the last week in July.  At the Forum we will also identify the actions we have taken to address the thoughtful recommendations we received from the Class of 2023 last month. 

The engagement of our students in these efforts will be critically important for their success. Today we will hear from student body president Giovanni Malaty from the class of 2021.  He will be followed by Sarah Yosief from the class of 2023 who, with two colleagues, who put together a document of recommendations for the school and shared it at our Community Forum in June. 

On behalf of the student body at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, I’d like to take a moment to highlight the very palpable senses of unity, solidarity, and urgency that have been derived, quite painfully, from continued and senseless slayings of unarmed black Americans across our country. While the collective feelings of horror and confusion brought about by these recurring injustices will likely never fade, parallel senses of responsibility and accountability are abundantly evident amongst our student body. Students across all classes have been vocal in demonstrating their deep desire to participate in discussions, events, and decision-making that highlights diversity, equity, and inclusion in our school and community.

The formation and mobilization of this task force will be instrumental in allowing students to use both their voices, as well as their individual skillsets, to affect real, tangible change within our campus and beyond. As students, we are grateful to have the opportunity to be involved in these important initiatives, as we look to reverse these unforgivable trends, both immediately and in perpetuity. My fellow students and I are ready to not only be participants, but to be leaders in the vital discussions to be had by the several working groups that will comprise this task force. It is plain to see that we are a long way from where we need to be as a society, however, it is my hope that the important work that will be accomplished by this task force can begin to move us, the VTC community, in the right direction. 

Hello. I hope you're all doing well and taking care of yourselves. My name is Sarah Yosief and I'm a medical student here at Virginia Tech.

Following the "Community Forum: Finding Safety after the Killings of Brianna Taylor, (whose murderers have yet to be arrested), Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd," in which my classmates, Kenneth Young and Chukwuemeka Uwakaneme and myself shared our statement and action items for change for a more equitable, inclusive, and diverse medical school experience. We then shared these items with our fellow classmates throughout the school of medicine student body and received signatures of support to share with the administration. I'm pleased to say that our efforts and items were received with overwhelming support from both students and faculty alike, for which we are extremely grateful. However, as explicitly and assiduously detailed in our statement, there is extensive work to be done beyond the affirmation support.

I'm sure others have experienced this, but I've seen many times in the past where empty promises have been made, but assuredly I'm really excited to comment on the efforts of the administration here at Virginia Tech Carilion. The plans put in place for the task force and the working groups for key components of the medical education curriculum and experienced both didactic and clinical and out in the community have been carefully organized. These will be put in place longitudinally to ensure continuous improvement and long-term commitment and accountability as there will always be the need to consistently better ourselves as a community and as individuals. The decision to include students in the task force is a necessary approach as we have unique and indispensable perspectives and ideas that will facilitate in addressing the student experience and needs.

With the administration's dedication to transparency, there are also several efforts that can and will be put in place immediately. For example, VTC's chapter of the Student National Medical Association, an organization for minorities in medicine, will be supported with a dedicated advisor to help maintain membership and drive programming. I strongly believe that our administration is moving in the right direction to create a more ideal experience for each and every member of VTCSOM, allowing for the development of more aware and sensitive individuals as we go on to work with those of diverse backgrounds.

Thank you, Giovanni and Sarah. We will be consulting with our student government leaders and department chairs about how best to identify interested students and faculty for the task force and working groups, and we will communicate that once available.

Also, be on the look-out for our calendar invite to the Community Forum once we finalize the date during the last week of July. At the forum we will provide details about the task force and working groups, as well as the specific actions taken by the VTC School of Medicine to address our students’ concerns. 

Until next week, please stay safe and take care of each other.