CNPH Diversity Council Faculty Panelists Reveal How Their Heritage and Experiences Influenced Their Research Pursuits
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Council
We aspire to create a respectful culture that embraces the virtues of diversity, equity, inclusivity, civility, and anti-racism in all dealings with students, faculty, staff, administration, and external stakeholders.
The College of Nursing and Public Health (CNPH) supports an inclusive learning environment where all students feel understood, respected, and appreciated. CNPH ensures that an environment of civility and respect is established to promote an inclusive, comfortable learning environment that facilitates the sharing of experiences and nurtures the critical examination of assumptions. Recognizing that cultural diversity is a strength, we engage in cultural humility and compassion in learning from others’ perspectives. With equitable support, we believe all students have the potential to succeed in their chosen academic program. We courageously recognize that diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential to achieving success. At CNPH we show respect to all students, faculty, and staff and have zero tolerance for hate or discrimination.
Meetings for the 2022-2023 academic year take place on Wednesdays from 10:00am – 11:00 am:
- September 14, 2022
- October 12, 2022.
- November 16, 2022
- February 15, 2023
- March 22, 2023
- April 19, 2023
There will also be impromptu meetings, to meet our objectives.
We are always actively seeking new members as we continue to grow the College of Nursing and Public Health (CNPH) Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council. We also recognize that there are others who want to be an “ally” to the Council and this work, so we also encourage them to come forward and be recognized.
To become a member, please contact the chairperson directly.
- CNPH Diversity Statement on our webpage: October 2021
- Diversity Statement in all Syllabi: August 2021
- Racism in Nursing: The African-American Nursing Experience – virtual filmscreening and Post-screening panel with filmmaker, Denetra Hampton. The post-screening discussion panel was facilitated by CNPH DEI Events Task Force chair, Dr. Kattiria Gonzalez.
- 3M Littman Stethoscope Leadership Development Grant – AUSNA Faculty Advisors – Dr. Jacqueline Johnston and Dr. Diane Santangelo (along with the 2019/2020 AUSNA E-Board and Membership) won this award based on their LGBTQ+ community outreach initiatives.
- AUSNA/CNPH Participation in National Coming Out Day on October 9, 2020.
- Social/Digital Media Awareness Campaigns including:
- Women’s History Month (numerous notable female alumni profiles were completed and posted on social media channels)
- Black History Month (numerous profiles of both African American students and faculty were posted on social media channels)
- Asian Pacific Heritage Month (just signed up to be part of May 2021 campaign)
- Hispanic Heritage Month
- Men in Nursing
- Month/American Heart Month addressed disparate cardiovascular conditions experienced by the African American community.
- CNPH Peer Mentoring Program, a collaboration between the Office of Academic Services and Retention and the College of Nursing and Public Health.
- Student and Faculty Climate Survey to more comprehensively understand the perceptions, challenges, and potential opportunities for change within the College.
- CNPH Library of Resources includes material that is specific to the needs of the programs through feedback from Faculty, Students, Staff, etc.
- Curriculum review with a lens towards opportunities for incorporation of DEI material that uses a model, such as, Evidence-Informed, Context-Relevant, and Unified Curriculum Development.
- CNPH DEI Council’s Library Resources Booklet: June 2021
- CNPH DEI Council Chair began representing AU at AACN Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Group: March 2021
- DEI Council Chair presented to CNPH Advisory Board: February 2021
- Getting to Know Your CNPH DEI Council Members and Ally Initiative: Feb – March 2021
- Dr. Ednah Madu hosted a presentation as a part of Black History
NPH Implicit Bias and Micro-aggressions Workshop Sessions
- The Importance of Cultural Humility in Healthcare Education
- The Way Forward: Empowering Nursing Students to Address Incivility
- DEI Council presentation to CNPH Faculty Learning Community
- Racism in Nursing: The African-American Nursing Experience – virtual film screening and panel discussion with filmmaker, Denetra Hampton
Council Members and Allies
Beginning in March 2022 we started to focus on a specific theme related to the work of DEIB and Antiracism that will come out of the Council. As part of this effort, we will be introducing our Council Members to the CNPH community beginning with a DEI Council Student Representative, a DEI Council Faculty, a DEI Council Staff, and an Ally will be recognized.
- DEI Council Student Representative: Jennifer Laguan
- DEI Council Faculty: Ditsapelo McFarland
- Ally: Patricia Donohue-Porter
Structural Violence, Structural Racism and Health Inequity
- DEI Council Student Representative: Maryam Gul
- DEI Council Faculty: Korede Yusuf
- DEI Council Staff/Staff: Caitlin McElroy
- Ally: Maria-Pilar Martin
- Justin Philip – Informatics
- Bianca Viana – Nursing
- Pamela Manon – Nursing
- Prianka Advani – Public Health
- Ridae Zainab – Public Health
- Chiamaka Madu – Public Health
- Jennifer Laguan – Nursing Student
- Gary Chang – Nursing Student
- Dhakenia Maxime – Public Health Student
Getting to Know Your CNPH Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council Members
My interest in healthcare began as a young child after my mother had a tragic car accident and was seriously injured. Following her surgeries, she was left to heal at home without sufficient healthcare. I was devasted, but even more, I felt helpless as I have never seen my mother so broken physically and spiritually. I tried to nurse my mom back to health, and it quickly became clear I was out of my league. I was determined never to have that moment repeat itself in my lifetime.
I began my nursing career as a volunteer at a major hospital. I soon developed an appreciation and love for nursing and decided that this was the career path that I would pursue. As a young man, I dreamed of being successful, and my plan was simply to have a job that would positively impact people’s lives, have a family, and contribute positively to society. So my dream began to take shape when I enrolled at a community college nursing program and was further inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King. I remember my first prerequisite English class paper was to write an analysis of Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech. I was inadvertently possessed by the spirit of this speech and the dream Dr. King spoke of. I knew how important it was to have a dream, and yet so many people don’t believe that they can dream, or that their dreams can ever come true; seeing a life instead not valued and one predestined to a powerless, voiceless, uninspiring future. My goal was simple – be in a position to help and to heal. I graduated nursing school and was honored for outstanding clinical performance. Since then, my career has spanned medical-surgical, telemetry, substance abuse facility nursing supervisor, to critical care with an in-depth heart transplant and heart ventricular assist device experience. I completed my Bachelor’s in nursing with a GPA of 3.94 on a 4.0 scale and decided to complete my master’s degree, another step towards completing my journey.
Choosing my master’s degree major became a leap of faith. Should I follow a medical curriculum or anesthesia path as so many of my colleagues versed in critical care pursue or follow my first love of mental health? My first love of mental health prevailed, and soon I would enroll in the psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner program at Adelphi. I enjoyed clinical rotations in nursing school but especially enjoyed mental health and remember the last statement one of the patients once told me; she said, “you have begun to stitch my soul back together.” That statement stayed with me throughout my career because I realized that there are so many souls that feel broken and need to be made whole. Nursing provides an opportunity to help clients achieve a higher state of wellness and gives the nurse a fulfilling sense of purpose unmatched by any other profession. I needed a program that emphasized therapeutic intervention combining online and in-person classes. Adelphi was the perfect match.
My time at Adelphi has been riveting, as I have experienced some of the most experienced and inspiring professors and professionals in their field. One of the most inspiring role models I have met during my time at Adelphi is Professor Cal. I believe the spirit of Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech is alive at Adelphi in the person of Professor Cal. I first met him as the professor of my informatics class, one of my first graduate courses. His ability to deliver the material is surpassed only by his passion for advancing his students’ future success. His passion has become him and goes beyond the classroom. He helped start the College of Nursing and Public Health (CNPH) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Council when the country awakened to the call for social justice. I joined the council as a student representative, and since then, it has become one of my greatest privileges. The DEI council has been operationalized from its inception with the input and involvement of staff, faculty, and students. The committee has addressed deficiencies in the University’s curriculum on diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice issues, developed workshops, a DEI book club through task force activities, and supports the National Commission to Address Racism in Nursing initiative, among other things.
Change is not only possible but is happening at Adelphi. I believe that the dream of a better world is still alive, a diversified, equitable, and inclusive future, and that is a dream that everyone can share.
A First-Generation Latinx College Student’s DEI Experience at Adelphi
My name is Jennifer Laguan and I am a senior nursing student here at Adelphi University. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are particularly important to me but I didn’t think that a huge focus on these issues would exist at Adelphi, so let me explain. When I applied, I really wasn’t sure how much diversity I would encounter in a private school located in Garden City. I was accustomed to having professors from different ethnic backgrounds, and fellow classmates of mixed ethnicities while at Suffolk Community College in Brentwood. I wasn’t sure if a private school would uphold those standards. But to my pleasant surprise, there was much diversity within the school. All my classes had a mix of students and professors from all different ethnic backgrounds, and it made me feel comfortable and welcomed.
What made it even better is that the CNPH DEI Council is available to really accentuate the diversity that is present at Adelphi. It makes going here extra special because the staff along with students are making it a point to make sure that everyone feels welcomed and included. I am a first-generation college student bringing great pride to my family. My father is Salvadorian and my mother is Dominican, and it is important for me to make sure I don’t forget my roots and where my family comes from. I’m sure I am not the only one who is a first-generation student, or who has family that came here to the United States for a better life. So being part of this committee is important because we can all come together, learn from each other, and grow.
Life Lessons Along the Way and How it Has Made me More Resilient
When I got accepted into Adelphi I was excited, but also filled with self-doubt. I come from a family who isn’t wealthy but we are living comfortably to meet our needs. I wasn’t sure how I was going to manage the expenses that came with going to a private school. But, I got a job at Northwell Health as an Environmental Service Aide – that’s the fancy words for Housekeeper. I have no shame in what I do, and it has allowed me to gain exposure in the hospital. One thing that struck me as odd, was people’s reactions at work when I told them I was going to Adelphi. Their nonverbal response was one of shock, then followed by “excitement.” Their next response was saying “that’s an expensive school, but that’s a great school for nursing.” I wondered why this was their response. Why would they make a face of shock and disbelief when I first told them that’s the school I attended, and why did they have to say it was an expensive one? I’m sure they weren’t expecting a Hispanic girl who works in housekeeping to be going to a private school. It made me realize that I had fallen victim to microaggression and that I am breaking the “social norms” most people have of Hispanics/Latinos/Latinx. It makes me proud that I am working hard academically and physically, in order to attain my dream of becoming a nurse and no one can ever take this pride away from me.
My Botswana Experience
I was born and raised in Botswana, Africa, where everyone is black and is of the same ethnic origin. Botswana culture is rooted in tribes rather than in races, and is guided by the rule of Tribal Chiefs. Since its independence from England in 1965, a movement of racial groups from other continents has been experienced and they have assimilated into the culture. On this note, Botswana has enjoyed racial harmony to date. I want to point out that my late husband was a white USA national, born and raised in Pennsylvania. He had lived in Botswana on and off as an economic advisor from Williams College, Massachusetts and he never experienced any racial overtones in Botswana as there are no racial or segregation policies in that country. The only thing he was uncomfortable with was that he wanted to be addressed by his first name but that did not happen, as it was not cultural and is considered disrespectful. No older person is addressed by their first name in Botswana.
My Experience in the United States
My point of entry into the United States in 1982 was Williamstown, Massachusetts. I had recently graduated from the University of Botswana with a Bachelor of Education in Nursing. Williamstown is predominantly white and I was well received. Throughout my entire stay in Massachusetts, including in Boston where I gained my PhD and worked as an assistant professor, I never experienced racism. At Russell Sage where I attained my MSN, I wrote a paper on “Cultural Diversities In Health and Illness” and presented it to my class and eventually to health care providers in Botswana. Since my arrival in New York in 2009, I have lived in Forest Hills, Queens, which is predominantly white. Since that time, I have not experienced racism or racial tensions. The title of “People of Color” which I heard during the diversity meetings at Adelphi, was new to me.
My Upbringing and How it has Influenced my Appreciation of the Adelphi DEI Initiative at CNPH
Botswana is guided by the Principle of BOTHO (Ubuntu in Swahili and Zulu). This BOTHO is described as “a process of earning respect by first giving it.” This has been my guiding principle which I brought with me to Adelphi. I have extended this respect to all in the school. My first approach on day one of my classes is to introduce myself and then ask each student to introduce themselves and their backgrounds. I then finish the exercise by emphasizing that the class has realized that they are not the same.
We come from different cultures and backgrounds and we bring different accents, so, let us respect these differences and grow together.” As noted earlier, my experience with racism and ethnicity in the USA is very limited. The CNPH DEI Council has provided a platform for me, as well as for everyone else, to understand concepts of Racism, Equity, Inclusivity, and Antiracism and to learn more as we develop together.
Lastly, I want to extend my appreciation to my Dean, Dr. Elaine Smith for giving me the opportunity to initially chair the CNPH Diversity Council. I also want to acknowledge Professor Charles Cal for his passion in taking the CNPH DEI initiatives forward. My appreciation also goes to the members of the CNPH DEI Council for their commitment to the various initiatives.
Refining Knowledge and Recognition
For me, promoting diversity means learning from people with a variety of different lived experiences and areas of expertise, particularly those who have been marginalized because of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. It is realizing how much knowledge needs to be recovered because of such exclusion and discrimination. It is also realizing how important it is to recognize our shared humanity. While reading about and learning from the lived experiences of others can never be the same as having these experiences oneself, it has been essential to my own work as an educator, a nurse, and a researcher to learn—and to continue to relearn— stories and histories of injustice and of progress. I have been greatly influenced by three scholars who have helped me to better understand the challenges around diversity and anti-racism.
Their work has helped me to better appreciate these challenges that were often analyzed in the courses I taught, particularly nursing research and higher education. The abuses of the research participants of the Tuskegee experiments were always a source of sorrow and horror for nursing research students and led to deep discussions as to how and why the Black community could have been treated so unethically for so long. The untiring work of Dr. Vanessa Gamble, the first woman and African American to hold the University Professor of Medical Humanities position at George Washington University, demonstrated her dedication and success as the Chair of the Tuskegee Study Legacy Committee to obtain a Presidential apology from our nation. While developing a higher education course, the realization of the deep inequities for diverse students led me to the early work of Dr. Derald Wing Sue concerning micro-aggressions. Because respect emerged as a central theme in many classroom dialogues I began to follow the work of Dr. Sara Lawrence- Lightfoot. Her 1990 book, Respect: An Exploration is one that I center in many curricula. By developing curricula covering a diverse range of experiences and amplifying experts from purposefully diverse backgrounds, I hope to foster the intellectual curiosity of students and create a space for them to share their own experiences and relate to the texts in multiple ways.
I reflect on a recent commentary on diversity within nursing that stated “There is no place within the profession for those who would knowingly provide more fulsome or competent care for some persons over others by virtue of their race (or ethnicity, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc.).
However, we have tended to shy away in our collective theorizing and professional development to the pervasiveness of structural racism within our societies.” (Thorne, 2020, p.1) I believe next steps include increasing our knowledge of racism, taking action in support of anti-racism, and collaboratively identifying how nursing theory and practice can unite to provide humanistic caring for all and make those for whom we care, if marginalized, visible and if silenced, heard.
I am committed to foregrounding diversity in our actions as academic leaders and to also prepare future nursing faculty with the foundation to do so. Educators can prioritize diversity discussions by encouraging boundary-crossing conversations within the classroom, providing opportunities for dialogue through critical reflection essays and offering sustained support for students pursuing research reflecting the diverse health needs and disparities of our society such as maternal morbidity and mortality for Black women in America and the vulnerability of individuals with sickle cell disease, for instance. We also need to support research into how we can transform structures that repeat patterns of racism and inequality. I hope, in being an ally, I will support and contribute to the continued conversations on diversity, equity and inclusion in the university, the nursing and public health disciplines and in our communities. Thank you to the CNPH DEI Council and to Professors Charles Cal and Ditsapelo McFarland for leading us in this important work.
Thorne, S. (2020). On privilege and fragility. Nursing Inquiry, 27, 1-2. https://doi.org/10.1111/nin.12386
Growing up in Nigeria
Growing up in Nigeria, a racially homogenous country, while we may have had tribal and social status prejudices, racism was not a concept. Nigerians are known to treat foreigners and or visitors and individuals from other races better than their fellow citizens. Based on my understanding and experience, I associated this superior treatment of foreigners with the Nigerian culture of being hospitable to visitors, but there are probably other reasons, such as; the effect of Nigeria being colonized by the British. There are over 200 ethnic groups in Nigeria, including four major ones. In an attempt to protect their interests, power tussles occur intermittently between ethnic groups. As a result, segregation occurs across ethnic lines in some communities, and ethnic minorities in those areas experience discrimination. I am of the Yoruba tribe, one of the major ethnic groups. Growing up, I resided mainly in states the Yorubas were predominantly occupied. However, even when I lived in other parts of Nigeria, I never experienced discrimination.
Racism and Health Equity in the US
There was never a reason to think about race and its impact until I migrated to the United States (US) about a decade ago. In Nigeria, discrimination may occur against minority ethnic groups, but not at the level of health care, a fundamental human right. As a physician, the type of care I delivered to a patient of my ethnic group was not different from that given to an ethnic minority. This issue is not documented in the literature as well. Socioeconomic status (SES) and culture constitute the key determinants of health outcomes in Nigeria. In the US, the experience of racial discrimination is an additional and crucial health determinant. As a Maternal and Child Health Epidemiologist, I have found in my research and other studies that racism predicts health outcomes in the US’s maternal and child population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than White women. Several factors contribute to these disparities, such as differences in quality healthcare, underlying chronic conditions, structural racism, and implicit bias.
My Belief System
Any form of racial bias within the healthcare system that results in variation in healthcare quality and health disparities, whether conscious or subconscious, is unacceptable. I am passionate about maternal and child health disparities and addressing this issue and racism are critical drivers through my research and interactions with students in the classroom. When the opportunity to join the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Council of the College of Nursing and Public Health (CNPH) came, I thought it was a perfect service fit; an excellent opportunity to learn more about DEI and anti-racism and contribute to the Council’s efforts. The DEI Council aims to create a respectful culture that embraces the virtues of diversity, equity, inclusivity, civility, and anti-racism at the Adelphi University CNPH.
A Challenge to Fight for Racial Justice
We all need to stand against racism and learn to treat people the way we would like to be treated. I challenge you to join in the fight for racial justice. Families are the basic building blocks of societies and bear the primary duty to educate children and instill values. So, ask yourself what you can do differently within your family to raise individuals who are anti-racist and speak up against any form of racism or discrimination. If we discuss racism, diversity, and the need to be good and open-minded citizens in our homes and organizations, the community as a whole will become better and healthier. As health care providers and educators, it is crucial for our students and us to be knowledgeable about racial and ethnic disparities in maternal and child health outcomes and make conscious efforts to address our implicit biases to improve the quality of care and health outcomes.