Kaji Sweeney, ’23AUD, wants to start a campus organization for African American students in health professions. And, the University’s Diversity Committee mixer Oct. 3 in the Bennett Lounge at the Hafter Student Community Center provided the perfect opportunity to float the idea.
“We have some organizations for black students in optometry, but not for any of the other programs,” said Sweeney. “I feel like creating a general student organization will help offer more inclusivity. A lot of people seem really enthusiastic about it, so I’m really excited.”
In her welcoming remarks to those attending the mixer, associate provost Brooke Kruemmling, PhD, encouraged everyone to share their ideas with the committee.
“Any ideas you have for programs or, activities that we might be able to do in the next year or so, you can share them with any member of the Diversity Committee,” said Dr. Kruemmling. She added students could also write their ideas on a post-in note and stick them on the wall outside the Bennett Lounge, or they could send the ideas via email to email@example.com.
“The idea for the committee came from the fact that we really just wanted to create a space where students, faculty and staff can get together in an inclusive environment,” said Monae Kelsey, assistant director of Admissions and associate director of Student Engagement. “And, this mixer was also an opportunity for groups to say what they’re about and what they’re looking for, as well as an opportunity for students to be able to step forward.”
The main goal, Kelsey said, is to let people know that the Diversity Committee is present and active and is designed to meet the needs of the Salus community.
Jimmy Brand, ’23AUD, is a new member of the Diversity Committee, and he’s confident that it can be utilized to benefit the University as a whole.
“We want to improve the culture of intersectionality on campus and make sure that all students here at Salus feel like they have a place where they belong, where they can come and raise issues and really make the campus feel like a home for every student,” he said.
Sean Lewis, ’23OD, agreed.
“It (the committee) will help create spaces for people with more than one minority classification and give more awareness to the campus about different issues coming up,” said Lewis, who pointed to a current case that will soon be in front of the U.S. Supreme Court about health professionals who might face being fired based on their sexuality. “Things that people don’t really know about that go under the radar.”
“We are an energetic and excited group of diverse members of the Salus community who really want to increase awareness and activities around diversity, inclusion and social justice,” said Dr. Kruemmling.
Members of the Diversity Committee include Dr. Kruemmling; Kelsey; Brand; Amy Lustig, PhD, MPH, CCC-SLP, assistant professor, College of Education and Rehabilitation (CER); Brianna Brim, MOT, OTR/L, CPAM, CLIPP, assistant professor; Candida Mulligan, Admissions officer; Camille Menns, ’21OT; Emily Vasile, MAT, TVI, MS, CLVT, CER instructor; Jennifer Brown, staff member; Kenneth Newton, MS, CCC-SLP, CER instructor, ; Ruth Shoge, OD, assistant professor, Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO); Terrance Hareshaw, security personnel; Melissa Cinciruk, associate director of Admissions; Alyshah Hassam, ’23OD; Lachelle Smith, MS, CER assistant professor; and Satya Verma, OD, FAAO, director of externship programs and associate professor at PCO.