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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 Members

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

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

Mallory Blackwood, M3-Student
Dr. Helena Carvalho, Assistant Professor, Basic Science Education
Katie Hardin, M2-Student
Dr. Kris Rau, Assistant Professor, Basic Science Education
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
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 Macucci (Co-leader), M2-Student

Courtney Powell (Facilitator), Community and Culture Manager, VTCSOM

Dr. Azziza O. (Kemi) Bankole, Associate Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine
Crystal Barnett, Medical Education Coordinator - Research, VTCSOM
Ryan Bell, M.S.Ed., Director, Family and Communuty Engagement, Roanoke City Schools
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
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
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
Jake Hartman-Kenzler, M3-Student
Stephanie Masters, M3-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. Taskeen Kazmi, Resident-Internal Medicine
Dr. Janet Osborne, Associate Professor, Obstetrics & Gynecology
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 Monday, June 8th, 2020, and we are entering Week 13 of the pandemic response. Today, Virginia Tech President Tim Sands announced the university’s plans for the fall semester, and announced that VTC School of Medicine will phase in clinical and in-person instruction over the summer months. In the coming weeks we will be communicating with you about how we will implement the re-entry of our students.

The recent and tragic killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd have created tremendous anguish, anger and sadness throughout our country, particularly among African-American communities. These events, and similar ones before them, represent structural racism’s violent impact on black lives, an impact that is compounded by the heavy burden of serious illness and deaths from COVID-19 in African-American communities.

Protests, mostly peaceful, have been held in major cities across the country and in our own community to mobilize, stand up and say, "enough is enough". On Friday afternoon, members of the health care community held gatherings and vigils called "White Coats for Black Lives", to raise awareness that racism is a threat to the health and well-being of people of color. Many local physicians, students, residents, and other health care workers participated in downtown Roanoke.

Last Wednesday, over 150 members of our School of Medicine community gathered together in a virtual community forum to share perspectives on these recent events, to support our community and work together for positive change. I was joined by three panelists: NL Bishop, senior associate dean for diversity, inclusion, and student vitality; Patricia Wooten, human resources manager for the medical school; and a special guest, Dr. Frank Clark. Dr. Clark is a former VTCSOM faculty member and Carilion physician who now practices in Greenville, South Carolina. He is an emerging national leader whose work draws attention to the impact of racism and health inequities on the African-American community. The 90-minute forum began with statements from the panelists followed by opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to express their thoughts and ask questions.

To summarize a bit of the conversation, in today’s video, we will hear from panelists NL Bishop and Patricia Wooten, as well as rising second-year medical student Sarah Yosief. At the forum Sarah and two fellow students presented a statement and a list of thoughtful recommendations for positive change within the medical school.

Hi, I am NL Bishop, senior associate dean for diversity, inclusion, and student vitality at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. I was honored to be a panelist as Dean Learman arranged for our [medical school’s] community to come together in a forum on Wednesday evening. I appreciated the opportunity for us to come together, learn, share, and listen to each other on this important topic of national, and even international significance. I was humbled to be joined by my friend, Dr. Frank Clark, and Patricia Wooten as together we shared our perspectives. The comments and questions showed an eagerness for this medical school to make a positive impact in the community of our school, in the community that surrounds us, and the nation… and be part of a change that needs to come.

I look forward to working with students, faculty, staff, and Dean Learman and his leadership team, to advance initiatives that help us to make a difference.

Good morning, VTCSOM. It is Monday morning and here we are with another Progress Notes. I have been asked to talk about our revelations or reflection after last Wednesday's community conversations. First, I just want to thank all 155 of you who attended that session with us. I think that is a testament to us all wanting to get together and be a part of a solution and figure out a way to better the world that we're living in. So, thank you all for joining and thank you, Dean Learman and our panelists for the insights that you shared with us. 

We're on about day 13 or 14 of demonstrations across the country and we're seeing many bold actions that were taken over the weekend and late last week by mayors in DC, by different organizations, Black Lives Matter. I'm just really, really encouraged by the things that I've seen over the last week or so.

Demonstrations are becoming more peaceful. It was great to see at Carilion and other healthcare organizations, "White Coats for Black Lives." I think that was a huge testament to our medical community and if any of you participated in that, thank you. So, I'm very, very encouraged by the progress that we're trying to make in the road that we're going down. There's still a lot of work to be done. I don't think this is ever going to be done. I think we will always work towards bettering the environments that we all operate in. I think I would like to get to a place personally where our positivity as a collective is more prevalent, rather than negativity. 

I personally took a break from social media this weekend. Just went out on the lake with my husband and that was wonderful. We still had really, really deep conversations with our friends, good conversations on how do we get out here and educate folks, but not being bombarded by the negativity that we may see on social media, the news, etc. So that's one thing that I'll sort of leave you with if you're struggling with, how do you get that negativity out of your everyday life? 

In regards to last Wednesday’s session, I just want to mention that I am super proud of our medical students for sharing their thoughts, their feelings, their ideas on ways for us to act as a school. You know, being in human resources, I don't get to interact with our students on a daily basis, but I was impressed. I have shared with everyone in my family and everyone that I know that I thought that was just phenomenal, professional, and one of the best ways to get your point across and be able to share your insights. So, thank you, students, for holding us accountable, transparently holding us accountable and making sure that there are going to be some actions following this. I think community conversations, as Dean Learman said, was not a one-time deal. We will continue to have those conversations and hopefully we'll have additional forums in the future for that. 

I think for us as people, a lot of questions that came in as I was moderating the session was in regards to

  • How do I strike up this conversation with someone that looks different than me?
  • How as a white person do I go to my black colleague and express my empathy, my compassion?
  • How do I get educated?

All of those questions were coming through in our chat. We didn't really get to touch on a lot of those because we were having great conversation, but over the weekend, actually, my father-in-law stopped by and gave me a book. One of the local churches in our town is going to be holding a book club. And, I think this book will be a great starting point for those of you who are struggling to get educated, understand about racism in America, understand where the anger and angst comes from as a person of color in this country.

This is the book, “White Fragility,” as you can see here, "why it's so hard for white people to talk about racism." I think this is a great start for anyone that's struggling with this concept, trying to figure out how do they talk about racism. You know, if you've got friends that are also interested, start a book club, start a conversation about the chapters in this book. I think you'll get and gain a lot of knowledge from this. So, this is my one piece that I'll leave you with to start that education for yourself. 

In closing, I'll just say I really, really think it's important for you to take care of your mental state, especially those of us, people of color at this time. I know that there can be individuals that sort of fan the fire, if you will. So it's really important that you find your community, find people that you can talk to, go to, to vent those frustrations in a positive manner. Take care of yourself, but also I think it's really important for us to continue to focus on being compassionate, being passionate about justice in America, doing the things that we should be doing to make sure that we can find equality. And I also think it's again important for us to be held accountable for our actions and for you all to continue to hold us accountable to make sure that we do act in the future and have equal workplaces, equal places of congregation, et cetera, those types of things. 

I will just leave you with that. Those are my thoughts after last Wednesday and I'm excited to continue this conversation. I am an individual that would welcome anyone to come and talk to me about their thoughts and their feelings. In my profession, there's a faction of... called diversity and inclusion, but please know all of us HR professionals, we are an open-door policy for anyone to voice their concerns and just be a listening ear. So, again, thank you all for joining us last Wednesday and have a great week. Thank you.

Hello everyone. My name is Sarah Yosief, and I'm a second year medical student here at Virginia Tech Carilion. In the wake of the brutal killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd, America is confronting how its long history of racial injustice, treating black bodies as the enemy from the beginning, continues to be present. It is imperative that each and every one of us addresses these wounds, especially those of us in medicine.

Last week, the VTC community was able to come together for a forum to help find safety following these heinous heart-wrenching acts. I’d like to thank Dean Learman for organizing a discussion and our panelists – Dean Bishop, Dr. Frank Clark, and Patricia Wooten – as their perspectives and experiences were not only comforting, reminding us to take care of our own mental health, but also inspiring, feeling the community's passion to continue to work towards change and enlightening, educating the community of how to best assess ourselves personally, as biases are present within all of us.

Another takeaway from the community forum was that, although we may be exhausted, as we have a long way to go, to have progressive change, we must have progressive leadership. We must all come together and support each other throughout this entire journey.

Finally, I wanted to express the gratitude for the VTC administration, committed to the wellbeing of their students. During the forum with my classmates, Chukwuemeka and Kenneth, we were able to share our actionable items that we worked so hard towards and are very proud of, that we believe are crucial for improving medical education. Our statement and items were received with overwhelming support and appreciation for which we were also so grateful. We believe VTC can and should become more inclusive, supporting both students and faculty of color, and allow for greater understanding of racial disparities in order to narrow them and how to limit implicit biases by teaching the social and structural causes of health inequality. As we move forward, we must not just work against disease, but also for justice, to create more culturally competent and sensitive practicing physicians. Thank you.

Thank you NL, Patricia, and Sarah for your participation in the forum. The thoughtful action steps suggested by our students will be discussed in the near future and plans put in place to further understand and implement them.

Thank you to the many other VTCSOM students, residents, faculty and staff who tuned in and participated with questions, comments and follow-up after the event. While this forum was open only to our medical school community, we plan future conversations on different aspects of diversity and racial equity in the near future.

These will be open to our larger community and we hope you will join us.

Until next week, take care everyone!

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.